He is one of the world’s greatest professional boxers who lost only a single round during his long career and became Olympic champion in 1948, 1952 and 1956. However, he could not compete for the world championship title since the Hungarian Communist regime did not provide him with a visa.
László Papp was born on 25 March 1926 in Budapest and became a southpaw professional boxer in Hungary. He won gold medals at middleweight in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, then as a light middleweight in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and in the 1956 Summer Olympics held in Melbourne, Australia. In his final Olympic competition, he beat José Torres for the gold medal who later became the professional light-heavyweight world champion.
Therefore, Papp was
the first boxer in Olympic history who won three successive gold medals.
His boxing supremacy is proved well by the fact that he won 12 out of his 13 Olympic fights without losing a round, and dropped only a single round in his last final – to Torres. In fact, there was not another triple gold medalist for 20 years. Only Cuban boxers Felix Savón and Teófilo Stevenson could repeat his fascinating successes, the latter in the 70s while the former in the 90s.
Furthermore, he scored
55 first round knockouts as an amateur.
Finally, Papp was also the European middleweight champion as a middleweight in 1949 at Oslo and light middleweight at Milan 1951.
During his professional career from 1957, he had a lot of problems with Communist Hungary which did not permit professional boxing those days. Therefore, he had to travel to Vienna for training and the fights. Despite his disadvantage, he beat many of the top-ranking boxers of Europe including Tiger Jones, French champion Hippolyte Annex and Chris Christensen. He wanted to run for the title of world champion in 1964; however, the Hungarian state
rejected to provide him with an exit visa
and thus, it put his professional career to an end. The reason was that the Communist Kádár regime resented the boxer’s successful by-passing of the restriction by staging his fights abroad.
He had excellent chances to acquire even the title of world champion since he was undefeated in the ring with 27 wins, 2 draws, and no losses. 15 of his wins were by way of knockout. Therefore, in 1989, World Boxing Council (WBC) President José Sulaimán gave Papp the award of the ‘Best amateur and professional boxer of all time’ and granted him an honorary champion status of the World Boxing Council. Moreover, in 2002, he was introduced into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.
He died in Budapest in 2003. Budapest’s Papp László Sportaréna, a multipurpose building best known as a concert venue and the home ice of the Hungarian national hockey team, is named after him.
Featured image: commons.wikipedia.org