Jack Miles

Jack working Rings

Jack made his debut in Tallahassee in 1951 an auspicious one, winning the NAAU Flying Rings championship and earning a berth on the All-American AAU Team. He repeated this latter honor in 1955 and also - - added the NAAU Still Rings title to his list of gymnastic achievements.

One of the most outstanding gymnasts in Florida State history, Jack has been a member of two Olympic teams, In ‘55 he was named to the Pan-American Olympic Team and in ‘56 to the U. S. Olympic squad.

Jaek graduated from FSU in 1954 with a BS in marketing. Presently, he is in the Graduate School specializing in Physical Education. Besides physical education, Miles has had experience in various other fields.

The present holder of 18 individual gymnastic titles in this region.


1956 Olympic Team, Jack 2nd from the right front row

1951 N.A.A.U. Flying Rings (Detroit)

1951 Georgia A.A.U. Swinging Rings, All Around

1951 All-American Rings

1952 Southern Intercollegiates, Rings and Long Horse

1952 Fiorids A.A.U. Flying Rings

1953 Es~stern Open Invitational, Long Horse

1953 Florida A.A.U. Flying Rings, Long Horse

1954 S.I.G.L. High Bar, Calisthenics, Fly­ing Rings, All Around

1954 Florida A.A.U. Flying Rings, Long Horse, Calisthenics

1954 Georgia A.A.U. Long Horse, High Bar Flying Rings, Still Rings, All Around

1954 Swedish Olympic Team, Long Horse

1955 N.A.A.U. Long Horse, Still Rings, All Around (tied)

1955 All-American All Around, Rings, Long Horse

1955 Florida A.A.U. Flying Rings, Long Horse

1955 All Around, Alabama Open

1955 St. Pete Open, All Around

1955 U. S. - Pan American Olympics (Mexico)

1956 Florida A.A.U. Flying Rings

1957 Georgia A.A.U. High Bar, Flying Rings, Long Horse (tie) All Around

1958 U. S. Olympic Squad (Alternate)

1958 Louisville Turners Invitational—High Bar, Still Rings, Flying Rings, High Bar, All Around

Jack Miles

AAU’s 1955 Gymnastics Champion

by Bruce A. Davis

Jack Miles was a native Philadelphian who along with his older brother Bob grew up working at the Turners (Turnverin) in the late forties trying to emu­late on the gymnastics of the stoic Bob Stout. 1952 Olympi­an and the first man to perform a full twisting hack somersault in the Olym­pic Games. Having natural drawing ability. Jack would often think up and draw new moves to he performed on the flying rings.

Jack’s best friend and 1952 NCAA ring champion. Jack Sharp. recom­mended that Jack attend Florida State University. Miles was instrumental in contributing to FSU national champi­onship endeavors while he began to excel in the all-around. In 1954 he technically made the US team to the World Gymnastics Championships only to he told by administrators that the US team was not good enough to go. However, there was no stopping him in 1955 when he won the National Amateur Athletic Union All-Around Championship and was number one on the US gold medal team in the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City. In 1956 he made the Olympic training squad hut failed to make the competing squad and did not go to Melbourne. Australia for the Games.

If you think that the Athens 2004 Olympic Games were controversial for American Paul Mann. the politics of AAU gymnastics of the fifties and sixties was far worse. Jack went from being National Champion in 1955 to not making the team in 1956. FSU’s coach. Dr. Hartley Price was not avail­able to help him prepare for the Olym­pic Trials in California and the Kate

Montgomery Gym in Tallahassee was not open for training during summer college vacation. Jack got invaluable help from gymnast team member Miroslav Ceska who was attending FSU from the Czechoslovakian National team.

Academically. Jack received a degree in business and then took credits in education while he coached and taught for Price during Dr. Hartley Price’s Fulbright Scholarship leave to India. After amassing a Masters degree and a Doctorate al­most. Jack tired of the FSU situation and gave into an itch to go to Manhattan. New York and try acting. Gaining bit parts as a stunt man, stand in a double for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Randall, Jaime Farr, Andy Williams, Ray Bolger and William Shatner, Jack followed the production crew South to North Miami to the Ivan Tours Studios on NEl25th Street. When it was all said and done Jack had small parts in Gentle Ben. Flipper, Car 54 Where Are You, and The Defenders as well as several movies like Lady in Cement and Tony Roma.

Jack was commuting to Miami from Ft. Lauderdale. He also took a job with Ft. Lauderdale Recreation Department (14 years) and eventually became the Director where he was a favorite of his employees. Jack ran a very successful gymnastics program at the Holiday Park Recreation Center. Holiday Park was the home to the USGF Eastem Gymnas­tics Clinic in the seventies. You could find Chris Everett. the great tennis player, hitting balls just across the street from the gym during that time.

Jack was a founder of the Florida Gymnastics Association and he provided the state gymnastic community with a humorous and to the heart newsletter for ten years. He was a mentor to Ron Gallmore, 1980 Olympian and Men’s Program Director for USA Gymnastics, and was a positive influence with a multitude of young gymnasts from the surrounding Ft. Lauderdale area.

Miles favorite event in gymnastics was the horizontal bar even though he won vaulting in the NCAA Championships when it was not part the all-around. He was NAAU flying ring champion and was able to transcend from flying rings to still rings on a high level. Jack invented and performed the “whippet” on the flying rings.

Jack is now retired and resides in Ft. Lauderdale with his wife Nancy. He is one of the great talents and personalities in the sport of gymnastics!

Bruce A. Davis, Professor Emeritus Miami Dade College, Director of Flip Flops & Fitness gymnastics school of Apollo Beach.

Publisher of www.Letstalkgymnastics.com Can be contacted at: (813)641-3375 or Brucedavis56@verizon.net


U. S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame entry

In the tradition of many gymnasts, John “Jack” Miles possessed other sports skills. He was deemed “The most athletic senior in high school”, and participated in track, soccer, and diving. He eventually narrowed his efforts to gymnastics and became a truly creative gymnast in every sense. He was very strong but with a perfectly proportioned body, so his leverages combined for great strength and fluidity resulting in outstanding artistry. He was as gracious an opponent as he was graceful on all the events.

National AAU Championships: Gold-FR, (1951); Silver-V, (1952); Silver-Clubs, (1953); Bronze-V, (1954); Gold-AA [T]; V, & SR, Bronze-HB & FR, (1955); Silver-HB, (1956). Pan American Games: Gold-Team, Silver-HB & V, Bronze-SR & AA, Mexico City, Mexico, (1955). SIGL Conference: Gold-AA, FX, HB, & FR, (1954); Georgia AAU Championships: Gold-AA, (1951); Silver-FR, Bronze-HB & AA, (1952); Gold-AA, (1954); Gold-AA, FX, HB, & FR, (1954); Florida Association AAU Championships: Gold-FR, Silver-AA, Clubs, & V, (1952); Gold-V & SR, Silver-FX, & Bronze-HB, (1953); Gold-PH, V, & FR, (1954); Gold-V & FR, (1955). Georgia AAU Invitational: Gold-AA, HB, SR, V, & FR, (1954).  Personal: Jack Miles began competitive gymnastics at the famous Germantown High School of Philadelphia coached by Dr. Leopold Zwarg, a charter member of the USAG Gymnastics Hall of Fame (1959); however, like most elite gymnasts of his day, he spent evenings and summers training at the PA Turners and the Germantown YMCA where former and soon to be Olympians worked out.  Recruited by Dr. Hartley Price, a HOF Honoree in the original class of 1959, he was an integral part of Florida State University’s competitive team that won five NCAA and AAU championships in the 1950’s.  He was a participant in the Florida State Gymkana, and selected to be one of the 9 members of the 1956 “Gymnastic Squad”. Contributions: Jack founded and was President of the Florida Gymnastics Association, and, through a series of interesting events became editor of the Florida Gymnastics Newsletter. For a time, he was the Director of the Miles Gymnastics Club in Broward County, Florida, and later represented the AMF American Athletic Equipment Co. Jack is credited by some sources as having originated the move, known in the U.S. as the “Whippet” (See Graphic) on the SR. The move is officially known by the FIG as the “Honma”. Life After Gymnastics: After graduation from FSU, Jack used his skills as an illustrator, statistician, and promoter. Eventually, he moved into the entertainment business doing Broadway shows, stunt work, and stand up comic in NYC & Florida Clubs. For a while, he owned and operated a gymnastic school and wrote short stories that were published in Argosy, Boys Life and other widely distributed publications. Throughout the years, he gave motivational talks in the worlds of government, business, and education. It appears that he was as versatile in life as he was in the sports world.  Family: Children: David, Michael, & Chad Miles plus Sandy Hennessy. Grandchildren: Jessica, Michelle, Veronica Lee, & Sarah Bell Miles plus Max & Julia Hennessy.

Sources: Olympic Committee Quadrennial, 1956, “Gymnastics” by Jerry Hardy, p. 133-138. Interviews with Jack Miles and the vetting team of Abie Grossfeld, Bruce Davis, and Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. For more about Florida State gymnastics and the Gymkana, click on www.fsugymnastics.org/. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Larry Banner, Ed.D. Web Manager.