Menlo College wrestling pioneer Lee Allen passes away

Two-time Olympian Lee Allen, a pioneer of the Menlo College women's wrestling program and head coach for nearly a decade, passed away on Monday at age 77 after losing his battle with congestive heart failure.

Allen was not only the first head coach of the Menlo women's wrestling squad, but in 2001 his team was the only such program in any four-year college in the western United States. Allen brought more than 50 years of knowledge and experience into his time at Menlo, which began in 2001 and culminated after the 2009-10 season.


"Today, Menlo lost an incredible coach, but an even better person," said Keith Spataro, Menlo's athletic director. "Lee was one of the most amazing men I have ever know and I will forever be grateful for the time we had together.

"His impact on the sport of wrestling, and more important the lives of every athlete he has exposed to the sport, will forever be remembered. The entire Menlo community will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers."

With Allen's wisdom and guidance, the Lady Oaks enjoyed tremendous success throughout his Menlo career. The program had 26 wrestlers take home All-American honors and another four win national titles, including both of his daughters -- Sara Fulp-Allen and Katherine Fulp-Allen.

Allen's efforts were rewarded in 2009 when he was named the Women's College Wrestling Association as Coach of the Year. He retired from Menlo two years ago.

"He was incredibly important to wrestling," said U.S. Women's National Team coach Terry Steiner, who worked with Allen often within the women's program. "This is a tremendous loss for wrestling. He has always been actively involved, not just with the women's program but with all of wrestling. He was a great person, as well. He is a huge part of the history of our sport."

Born on December 28, 1934 in St. Francis, Kan., Allen and his family moved to Sandy, Ore., during the Dust Bowl in 1938. A star athlete in high school, Allen took home four state titles in wrestling, and then excelled at the college level at the University of Oregon.

Allen holds the unique distinction of competing in the Olympic Games twice, once in each of the Olympic styles, according to USA Wrestling. He was a member of the USA freestyle team at the 1956 Melbourne Games, competing at 125.5 pounds. Four years later, he finished eighth in Greco-Roman at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

Two decades later, Allen was named head coach of the U.S. Greco-Roman team for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which did not compete because of the U.S. government boycott of the Games. Allen also was a four-time head coach of U.S. Greco teams competing at the World Championships in the 1970s.

Allen is a member of several halls of fame, including the Portland State Athletics Hall of Fame, the Skyline College Hall of Fame, the California Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the Oregon chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Settling down in El Granada, Allen coached the men's team at Skyline College in San Bruno for 32 years while incorporating a women's program, as well. He also helped start BAWA (Bay Area Wrestling Association), before continuing his career at Menlo College.

Allen is survived by his wife, Joan, a physical education at El Granada Elementary School and both his daughters.

The family has announced plans for a memorial service in his honor on Saturday at 10 a.m., at the Community Methodist Church in Half Moon Bay.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in Allen's honor to the Olympians For Olympians Relief Fund.

Information and donations can be made at:

— Palo Alto Online Sports


Like this comment
Posted by Ali Nazari
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 9:45 am

My condolences to Lee’s family (Joan his wife and his daughters Sara and Katharine), friends, the entire Wrestling communities. He was a good friend to me. I met Lee in July, 1977 during the Jr. World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas. I was representing Iran National Greco-roman Team at that time and later when I moved to U.S. he invited me to wrestle for him in Skyline College. I have had many memorable times during 1980 to 1982 season and I am proud to say that we share a wall in Skyline College Hall of fame. Lee, Thanks for the good memories. So long my friend rest in peace. Ali Nazari Former Iran Jr. National Wrestling Team Arvada, Colorado

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