Ralf Adamowski

This is the Polish hockey legend Tadeusz "Ralf" Adamowski. His story is not the usual hockey story. Not even close.

The son of Polish musicians Jozef and Antonina Adamowski, Ralf was born in Switzerland but grew up in USA. He studied at Harvard University, earning a degree in economics. He excelled in many sports, including football, tennis and basketball. At Harvard he starred on the hockey and fencing teams.

While working for General Motors, a trip home to Poland in 1925 forever changed his life. He was asked to play professional hockey in Warsaw. Though he could have played hockey at a high level in the United States, Adamowski returned to Poland (while continuing to work for GM) in 1927 and became a playing coach with AZS Warsawa, winning 5 consecutive  Polish league titles. Playing alongside Aleksander Tupalski he also represented Poland internationally in 40 games, scoring 16 goals. The duo were amongst the most highly regarded hockey players in Europe in the late 1920s.

Adamowski fought in World War II and became a prisoner of war in Germany. He survived, and eventually returned to New York City where he worked for UNICEF. Interestingly, Adamowski's sister Helenka Adamowska Pantaleoni, a silent film star in Hollywood, was an instrumental figure in the founding of UNICEF.

Ralf, who died in New York in 1994, was also a cousin of Ignacy Paderewski, a pianist turned prime minister of Poland.

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