hackney elmer
Elmer Hackney

  • Excelled in three sports – wrestling, shot put, and football – at K-State
  • Known around that nation for his exceptional strength and speed
Hackney, Elmer
Inducted 2003

Born: July 8, 1916 - Decatur County, Kansas

Died: June 2, 1969 – Manhattan, Kansas

Graduated: Decatur County High School, 1936; Kansas State University, 1940


Elmer L. Hackney of Oberlin, also known as the “One Man Gang,” achieved near legendary status during his three sport career at Kansas State University during the 1930s.  Also called the “Mahrajah of Might” and “Mr. Muscle,” Hackney impressed teammates and opponents alike.

High School Highlights

At Oberlin High School, Hackney was a two-time state champion (all classes) in the heavyweight wrestling division.

Hackney on the Gridiron

In 1938, Northwestern players called Hackney the strongest man they’d ever come up against in a football uniform.  A bruising fullback who was 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Hackney was selected All-Big Six as a sophomore in 1937 and junior in ’38.  He was being touted for the All-American team in ’39 before an injury ended his season.

Shot Put Star

Although a noteworthy player on the gridiron, Hackney earned his greatest fame in track and field.  He won the NCAA championship twice and the Big Six title three times in the shot put.  He established an incredible 18 new shot put records in 12 collegiate meets during his junior season, including an American record of 55-feet, 11-inches.  Hackney earned a berth on the 1940 U.S. Olympic Team, but the Games were cancelled because of World War II.  A rare blend of strength and speed, Hackney was also a three-time Big Six heavyweight wrestling champion.

Professional Career and Honors

Following his graduation from Kansas State in 1940, Hackney played seven seasons in the National Football League, the last five with the Detroit Lions.  He was inducted into the Kansas State Hall of Fame in 1991.