Book 100 years Deaflympics
Antoine Dresse (1902-1998)
Fri 28 Oct '22 A man out of a thousand in deaf sport for Belgium and the world !
Antoine Dresse, born on 01.08.1902 and deaf from birth, was the son of a deaf family (his parents and grandparents were also deaf), and of bankers and industrialists. He was the ideal person to open many doors thanks to his family ties and his education.

His grandfather, Armand Dresse, acquired a building at 2 rue Waleffe to house the "Société de Secours-Mutuels des Sourds-Muets de la Province de Liège", later the "Foyer socio-culturel des Sourds (-Muets) de la Province de Liège", then "Surcité" and now "Les Mains Ardentes", a meeting place for the deaf and hard-of-hearing since 1904. This is also where the Union Sportive Silencieux Liégeoise (abbreviated as U.S.S. Liégeoise) was established.

At the age of 17 he founded the first deaf sports club U.S.S. Liégeoise with Emile Cornet in 1919 and they formed the basis for the foundation three years later of our federation "Fédération Sportive des Sourds-Muets de Belgique" with the addition of the Flemish name "Sportverbond der Doofstommen van België" with administrators from Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp (as well as Mons which however did not participate any more in the official foundation). His role in the administration was very decisive in this respect, despite the fact that he continued his studies at the university.

From 1930 onwards ...
After the death of President Emile Cornet in 1930, Antoine became President at the age of 28, a position he held until 1980, i.e. half a century as President! In addition to his task as secretary, he was no less than 58 years on the board of directors of our federation!

His function within the federation allowed him to see new perspectives, especially at the international level.

Since 1923, thanks to fruitful contacts with a French deaf man named Eugène Rubens-Alcais, Antoine Dresse was the pioneer of the first Deaflympics (first called Silent Games and later World Games for the Deaf), now called Deaflympics, and of the foundation of the world federation "Comité International des Sports Silencieux" (abbreviated to C.I.S.S.), now called International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (abbreviated to I.C.S.D.).

During his sporting career, Antoine Dresse had the chance to meet a hearing person in the person of Roger Lonnoy, professor at the Berchem Institute for the Deaf, who was his official interpreter. Roger Lonnoy accompanied him in the missions that were necessary for the good functioning of the federation, both at national and international level.

After 43 years of service within C.I.S.S. as secretary and treasurer, Antoine Dresse ended his mandate on 20.02.1967. However, he continued to work as administrative and financial advisor until 1975. This emblematic figure of international Deaf sport was the driving force for more than half a century, including no less than 10 Summer Silent Games!

In view of his multiple functions combined at both national and international levels, Antoine Dresse could count on the undeniable support of the members of the Board of Directors of the national federation and of C.I.S.S. Without forgetting the respect of the affiliated clubs and federations.

He was also an athlete and a tennis player who won several medals at the Silent Games.

He was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa on 17.05.1971 by the Academic Council of Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., Honorary Life Member, Gold Medalist and Honorary Secretary of the I.C.S.D.

Antoine Dresse died on 13 February 1998 at the age of 95.

He left a beautiful sporting and cultural legacy that we can summarise today as follows:
- The affiliation of 116 national federations to the I.C.S.D..
- The organisation of 24 Summer Deaflympics and 19 Winter Deaflympics;
- The creation of so-called regional international federations such as the E.D.S.O. (European Deaf Sport Organisation); 
- The organisation of World and European Championships, international tournaments (D.C.L., ...), national and regional championships;
- The management of a federation composed of people belonging to the deaf and hard of hearing community where sign language is the pillar ensuring its functioning.

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