Walter Plekan

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National Handball Champion

Born and raised in Buffalo and a graduate of Lafayette High School, Walter Plekan is widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest handball players ever.

From his beginnings on the one-wall outdoor courts at Wende playground, the ambidextrous Plekan parlayed his dynamite, hooking serve and unpredictable trick shots to become the greatest handball player in Western New York history. Known for his intensity on the court, Walter captured two New York State titles by the time he turned 21. He added the YMCA National Championship and the National Junior AAU titles in 1939. He hit his personal pinnacle in 1951 when he captured the first United States Handball Association 4-Wall National Championship.

While remaining unbeatable at the local level, he was regarded as one of the top four players in the country over a 12 year period. He dominated WNY handball in both singles and doubles competitions for more than 30 years, and he retired from competition in 1953. He was inducted into the USHA National Handball Hall of Fame in 1991.