Son of Olympic silver rowing medallist Julius Beresford, Jack Beresford was born in Bedford in 1899. He was educated at Bedford School from 1913 until 1917 where he stroked the eight and also captained the Rugby XV. During the First World War he was wounded in the leg whilst serving in France with the Liverpool Scottish Regiment. He returned to London and learned the craft of furniture-making for Beresford & Hicks in his fathers factory. Beresford took up sculling because the leg wound had put an end to his promising rugby career.
In 1920 Beresford won his first Olympic medal in Antwerp: a silver in the Single Sculls. Four years later in Paris he achieved gold in the same event. In 1928, in Amsterdam, he added another silver medal to his collection as a member of the Eights crew. In 1932, in Los Angeles, Beresford won his second gold in the Coxless Fours. In 1936, in Berlin, he achieved yet another gold with victory in the Double Sculls with Dick Southwood, and in so doing he became the first rower to compete at five Olympics, a feat that would be unmatched for forty years. Beresfords record of winning five Olympic medals in succession, an Olympic record in rowing, has since been equalled by Sir Steven Redgrave.
Beresford also enjoyed great success at home at both the Henley Royal Regatta and in the Wingfield Sculls, winning the latter over seven consecutive years, a feat unmatched in history. Beresford was also active in coaching and amateur athletics administration and was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1960.
Jack Beresford was just one of three generations of Beresfords who represented Great Britain in the Olympics (his father, Julius, silver in 1912 and his nephew, Michael (OB 47-53) in 1960).