Tuesday, November 29, 2022  |



Hall of Fame Friday: Laszlo Papp


THE RING magazine features a thumbnail biography of a ring great who has received the ultimate honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.


Birthdate: March 25, 1926
Date of Death: Oct. 16, 2003
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Weight Class: Middleweight
Record: 27-0-2 (15)
Title held: European middleweight
Best Performances: Christian Christensen (KO 7, KO 4), Peter Mueller (KO 8, KO 4), Luis Folledo (KO 8), Hippolyte Annex (KO 9), Andre Drille (W 10), Harry Scott (W 10), Mick Leahy (W 15)
Year of IBHOF Induction: 2001
Background: Regarded as one of the greatest boxers to never win a world title. ÔǪ Inherited his love of boxing from his father and took up the sport while working for the Hungarian National Railroad. ÔǪ Extraordinary 288-12 amateur career resulted in three Olympic gold medals: Captured middleweight gold in 1948 at the London Games and then dropped down to junior middleweight to win gold in 1952 (Helsinki) and again in 1956 (Melbourne), where he beat future light heavyweight world champion Jose Torres in the championship bout. ÔǪ The Hungarian uprising against the communist government in ’56 threw the country into turmoil, but Papp was still allowed to turn pro the following year at the age of 31. However, he was forced to fight out of Austria because the communist state had banned professional sports. ÔǪ Fought in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Austria. ÔǪ Won the European middleweight title by knocking out Christian Christensen in Vienna in ’62. ÔǪ By then Papp had developed into an outstanding pro who advanced behind a stiff southpaw jab and then lashed out with hard, accurate punches. Relatively short at just 5-foot-5, he made himself an ever smaller target by ducking his head and shoulders as he came forward. ÔǪ Modest knockout percentage is deceiving. His left hook was a murderous punch, but brittle hands hampered him throughout his career. ÔǪ Tallied six successful defenses of the European title and was closing in on a world title shot against reigning champ Joey Giardello when the Hungarian government, which had always been suspicious of the country’s greatest athlete, revoked his permit to travel abroad. ÔǪ His final bout was on Oct. 9, 1964, when he won a 15-round decision over Mick Leary. ÔǪ Turned his attention to working with amateurs and was head coach of the Hungarian national team from 1971 to 1992. ÔǪ The Papp Laszlo Sportarena in Budapest was named in his honor.