Moments of Melbourne, Part 9 - Saturday, December 1st, 1956

Whenever Hungarian athletes competed at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, it was a highly emotional affair. The bloody ending to the revolution in their home country, caused by the invasion of Soviet tanks, earned them sympathy around the world and also in Down Under. For the Hungarian athletes in Australia, the main topic (besides competition) was the question whether to go home after the end of the Games or to emigrate to the west.

One of the most famous athletes who would finally go home again, was legendary Laszlo Papp. He made history on December 1st by becoming the first boxer to win gold at three consecutive Olympics (picture: Sportschau).

Many Hungarian team mates gathered around the ring when Papp took on American future world champion Jose Torres for his light middleweight gold medal bout - and the 30 year old veteran did not disappoint them. Although Torres gave him a hard time (picture:ORF), Papp kept his unbeaten record thanks to a split 2-1 decision by the judges. Papp had dominated this weight class four years ealier in Helsinki - after he had become middleweight champion at the first post-war Games in 1948 at London

Boxing had not been on Papp's mind all his life. As a little boy, he tried many different sports. When he took up boxing, some experts thought his hands were too small and fragile. With superb technique and strategy, Papp proved all skeptics wrong, winning not only three Olympic gold medals, but also two European championships.

The re-established communist regime of Janos Kadar rewarded Papp's return to Budapest with the allowance to become a professional. "I fight for money, but I am not greedy. How many steaks can one man eat?", he remarked ironically In 27 professional bouts, Papp - who lived in Vienna and got an Austrian boxing license - remained unbeaten and became European middleweight champion. But when he had a chance to box for the world championship in the Unted States, promotors did not want a "communist champion". The government's allowance was subsequently withdrawn.

Papp retired and became a renowned coach of many young Hungarian boxing hopfuls. He died in 2003. Some of the team mates who watched his final amateur bout in Melbourne on December 1st, 1956, Laszlo Papp has never met again (picture: Boxrec).

News of the day: Bantam weight boxer Wolfgang Behrendt from Berlin wins the first ever Olympic title for the German Democratic Republic (as a member of the unified German team) +++ Further Boxing gold medals go to the USSR (three), the USA and Great Britain (two each) and Romania +++ In freestyle wrestling, Turkey and Iran both grab two golds +++ On the last day of athletics, France's Alain Mimoun wins the marathon, defeating his life-long nemesis Emil Zatopek (Czechoslovakia/sixth place) +++ The USA wins both men's relays, Australia the women's sprint relay +++ Ireland's Ron Delaney surprisingly prevails in the men's 1500 meters, while Mildred McDaniel (USA) wins the women's high jump +++ Led by future NBA star Bill Russel, the US team grabs another basketball crown +++ In shooting, Wassili Borissov (USSR) wins the free rifle competition and Italy's Galliano Rossini the litter pigeons +++ Swimmer Bill Yorzik (USA) becomes the 200 meters butterfly champion, while Australia's Dawn Fraser is fastest in the women's 100 meters freestyle +++ Bob Clotworthy wins another springboard diving gold for the USA +++ In canoeing's 1000 meters finals, the gold medals are won by Romania (two), Sweden and Germany, Russia's Jelisaveta Dementijeva wins the women's 500 meters K1.

Notice: On December 2nd, 1956, no competitions were held due to Sunday sports restrictions. Our next post comes to you on December 3rd.

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