Cliff Battles was born in Akron, Ohio, on May 1, 1910. He played high school football at Kenmore High School. Kenmore today honors athletes who carry on Battles' tradition, those who letter in three sports their senior year, with the Cliff Battles Award.

As a member of the West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcats, he scored seven touchdowns, rushed for 354 yards, returned a kick 91 yards and added 24 receiving yards for a total of 469 all-purpose yards against rival Salem College. An incredible all-around athlete, he earned 15 varsity letters at West Virginia Wesleyan in football (4), track (4), baseball (3), basketball (3) and tennis (1). While at West Virginia Wesleyan, he won 15 letters in five sports - four each in football and track, three each in baseball and basketball, and one in tennis. While there, he was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar and Rhodes Scholarship candidate.

After college, he got many offers from NFL teams including the New York Giants and Portsmouth Spartans, among other NFL teams. But he signed with the Boston Braves in 1932, who offered him $175 per game, compared with a high of $150 from the other teams. 

In his first season with the Braves, Cliff led the league in rushing yards (576), rushing attempts (148) and average yards per game (72.0) as well as yards from scrimmage (636). The Braves became the Redskins in 1933 and continued to improve each year on their winning totals with his help. Cliff led the league for a second consecutive year in yards from scrimmage in 1933.

The 1936 Boston Redskins played in the NFL League Championship game, falling to the Green Bay Packers 21-6. In 1937, the Redskins moved to Washington D.C. and added your rookie Sammy Baugh to run the offense. Cliff again led the NFL in rushing yards (874), attempts (216) yards from scrimmage (955) and average yards per game (87.4) and added most rushing touchdowns (5) to his league-leading list of statistics. The puzzle was complete and the Washington Redskins won their first NFL League Championship in 1937 beating the high-powered Chicago Bears 28-21. Cliff was a three-time NFL All-Pro First Team selection.

Cliff finished his career following a contract dispute in 1937 with 3,511 rushing yards, 23 rushing touchdowns and 4,057 yards from scrimmage. He scored 190 points in his career on 31 touchdowns, one filed goal and one extra point. Battles went on to become head coach of Columbia University’s football team from 1938-1943.

Cliff Battles was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955 and passed away on April 28, 1981, at age 70, in Clearwater, Florida.