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Author Topic: Budapest (Hungary) in the 1930s
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Just some new stuff that I found while digging through the Hungarian newspapers. Basically a summary of the pro wrestling events in Budapest in the 1930s.

Pro wrestling in Hungary can be traced back to the 19th century and Budapest in particular would somewhat regularly host Greco-Roman pro bouts all the way up to the mid 1930s, and then American/catch style bouts after that. Like in the rest of Central Europe the Budapest scene was tournament based. Some of the earlier big tournaments to be held in Budapest were, for example, in September/October 1900 (where George Hackenschmidt wrestled Kara Ahmed for 3 hours in the final), in May 1905 (with top names like Stanislaus Zbyszko, Jess Pedersen and the winner of this tournament Jakob Koch), In August-October 1906 (where on the final day Stan Zbyszko had to quit his final match against Georg Lurich, because earlier in the day he had had a minor throat/nose surgery and his nose started bleeding profusely so he had no choice but to quit the match), a European Championship tournament in September/October 1923 (which ended with a disputed result between Jaan Jaago and Hans Schwarz Sr.), a September 1924 European Championhip (which seems to have been won by Paul Westergaard-Schmidt), etc.

Below I'm listing all of the tournaments I could find for the 1930s, but I'm also listing some standalone shows. In the brackets after the arena name I've included quotes from the local press regarding the attendance. If there's more than one quote listed that means several different newspapers reported on the attendance. Unless specifically mentioned that it's American style wrestling, all of the below tournaments and shows are Greco-Roman style, which was the predominant style in Budapest up to the late 1930s.

Before I get to the tournaments, there's an interesting story in the Hungarian newspapers from late March/early April 1930. According to this story a wrestler by the name of Emil Czaja had been wrestling in Transylvania, Romania, and claiming to be a brother of the famous Hungarian wrestlers Josef and Janos Czaja. One night this Emil Czaja was wrestling in Oradea, Romania, when it turned out Josef Czaja was in the audience. Josef shouted from the crowd something along the lines of "How dare you call yourself a Czaja! You're a fraud, you son of a *****!" and ended up exposing Emil as a fake Czaja. According to the story the idea to call him Emil Czaja was the promoter's and his real surname was Zeimes. Of course, this Zeimes wrestler would go on to be the famous "King Kong" Emile Czaya and this is the earliest mention I've seen of him in any newspaper.

Anyway, some of the most notable names to pass through Budapest in the 1930s: Dick Shikat, Michele Leone, Jaan Jaago, Hans Schwarz Jr., Kurt Zehe, Leo Pinetzki, Dimitri Martinoff, Regis Siki, Bob Gregory and others.


A tournament from 19 April to 6 May 1930 at Sportarena. Final placement: Mila Svoboda (winner), Josef Czaja (2nd), Pavel Ivanoff (3rd).

A World Championship tournament from 16 September until 30 October 1930 at Circus Beketow. Final placement: Theodor Sztekker (winner), Dimitri Martinoff (2nd), Alexander Peterson (3rd), Karl Kornatz (4th), Hadji Weinura (5th).

26 April 1931
Circus Beketow ("capacity crowd")

Fritz Frank (Franculescu) def. Milan Vladar
Franz Olschowsky def. Istvan Szoradi
Szalay def. Szatmari
Janos Czaja def. Willy Urbach (45 minutes)

A tournament from 16 May 1931 until maybe late May. Not sure when it ended and who won it. Notable participants: Josef Czaja, Leo Pinetzki, Emil Grikis, Gerhard Karsch and others.

4 June 1931
Millenáris Sporttelep ("10,000 fans", "more than 8,000 fans", "nearly 10,000 fans")

Fritz Frank (Franculescu) def. Franz Olschowsky
Gerhard Karsh def. August Brylla (about 30 minutes)
Josef Czaja def. Emil Grikis (45 minutes)
= Pavel Ivanoff vs. Istvan Szorandi was also advertised, but none of the reports mention it in the results.
= Millenáris Sporttelep is an open-air velodrome and that's where the biggest matches were held.

7 June 1931
Millenáris Sporttelep ("many thousands", "packed to capacity", "large crowd")

Emil Grikis def. August Brylla
Josef Czaja def. Gerhard Karsch
= This match was to commemorate Josef Czaja's 25th year anniversary as a wrestler.

16 September 1931
Millenáris Sporttelep ("6,000 fans", "6,000 fans", "6,000 fans")

Janos Czaja def. Karl Kornatz (37 or 38 minutes)
= A few days before the match Czaja was in a car accident and was a bit banged up.

A tournament from 14 September until 1 November 1931 at Czaja Neparena. Middleweight placement (the middleweight portion of the tournament concluded on 16 October): Gustav Czaja (winner), Franz Mrna (2nd), Pavel Ivanoff (3rd), Hermann Schultz (4th). Final overall placement: Janos Czaja (winner), Karl Kornatz (2nd), Gustav Czaja (3rd).

27 March 1932
Circus Beketow

Laszlo Teer def. Bela Szatmari
Pavel Ivanoff def. Istvan Szorandi
Josef Czaja def. Gerhard Karsch (24 minutes)

16 April 1932
Circus Beketow ("crowded auditorium")

Istvan Czontos def. Bela Weiss
Pavel Ivanoff def. Hans Marko
Janos Czaja def. Josef Steinbach (47 minutes)

20 June 1932
Czaja Neparena

Janos Czaja def. Franz Mrna (48 minutes)

28 June 1932
Czaja Neparena ("2,500 fans")

Jaan Jaago def. Petrics (3 minutes)
Freestyle: Janos Czaja def. Franz Mrna (35 minutes)

21 July 1932
Millenáris Sporttelep ("nearly 4,000 fans", "nearly 4,000 fans")

Bela Weiss def. Istvan Szoradi (25 minutes)
Janos Czaja def. Jaan Jaago (46 minutes)
= The match was supposed to be on 6 July at Czaja Neparena, but it was decided to reschedule it and move it to a bigger venue. Then it was scheduled for 18 July, but was postponed due to rain.

2 August 1932
Czaja Neparena ("crowded arena")

Jaan Jaago def. Bela Weiss (8 minutes)
Dimitri Martinoff vs. Janos Czaja ended without a winner (45 minutes) – Martinoff was wrestling very rough and the jury said Czaja could not continue to wrestle, more or less, but there was no winner announced.

10 August 1932
Czaja Neparena

Janos Czaja def. Bela Weiss (1 minute)
Dimitri Martinoff def. Jaan Jaago (50 minutes)
= The story here was that the 8-time World Greco-Roman champion, which is what he was billed as, Jaago challenged Martinoff because he did not like Martinoff's rough style of wrestling in the Czaja match and wanted to put him in his place.
= Ferenc Holuban was in attendance and challenged Martinoff.

17 August 1932
Czaja Neparena

Jaan Jaago def. Franz Olschowsky (7 minutes)
Dimitri Martinoff def. Ferenc Holuban (40 minutes)
= Janos Czaja challenged Martinoff.

27 August 1932
BSzKRT Sporttelep ("5,000 fans")

Janos Czaja def. Dimitri Martinoff - A disputed finish. Martinoff had Czaja in a double nelson and Czaja tapped three times on the mat. Martinoff thought that meant Czaja was giving up so he released the hold. Czaja, however, then surprised him and pinned him. One of the jury members, Franz Doberl, sided with Martinoff and was saying that Martinoff was the winner due to the tap out.

A European Cup tournament from 1 September until 21 October 1932 at Circus Beketow. Final placement: Jaan Jaago (winner), Dimitri Martinoff (2nd), Paul Westergaard-Schmidt (3rd), Sergej Orloff (4th), William Thompson (5th), Raoul de Saint Mars (6th). Middleweight placement: Bela Nagy (winner), Armas Vichtonen (2nd). According to the local press the tournament drew a combined audience of more than 100,000 fans and brought a lot of tourism to the city.

A European Cup tournament from 1 August to 31 August 1933 at Sportarena. Final placement: Peter Ferestanoff (winner), Ferenc Holuban (2nd), Franz Mrna (3rd), Alois Krause (4th). It's good to mention this tournament was managed by the Hungarian Richard Weisz. Weisz was an Olympic gold medalist in Heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1908 Summer Olympics. The following year he did pro wrestling for the first time and then eventually moved to the management side of things.

A tournament from 1 September until 22 October 1933 at Circus Beketow. Final placement: Hans Schwarz Jr. (winner), Dimitri Martinoff (2nd), Bela Nagy (3rd), Petar Kopp (4th), Armas Vichtonen (5th). Lightweight winner: Sandor Nemeth. According to one report the first 26 days of the tournament attracted a total crowd of 60,112 fans or in other words an average crowd of 2,312 fans per show. On the final day they turned away 1,000+ fans.

A tournament from 29 September until 16 October 1934 at Circus Beketow. Final placement: Dimitri Martinoff (winner), Albert Raago (2nd). The tournament was managed by Richard Weisz.

A tournament from 6 August until 12 September 1935 at Sportarena. Final placement: Hans Schwarz Jr. (winner), Alexander Peterson and Bela Nagy (tied for 2nd), Radko Petrowitsch (3rd), Regis Siki (4th), Vasil Colev (5th).

11 June 1936
Sportarena ("2,000 fans", "2,000 fans")

Josef Kamaras vs. Grun
Josef Czaja def. Franz Mrna (28 minutes)

17 October 1936
Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz

Peter Glavanoff def. Josef Kamaras
Sandor Nemeth def. Bela Nagy
Stan Karolyi def. Dick Perron (29 minutes)
= Billed as the first catch-as-catch-can show in Budapest. There had been catch style matches in the past in Budapest, but this is the first full-on catch/American style show that I've seen a mention of. The show was supposed to be held on 10 October, but was postponed at the last minute. The Karolyi/Perron match was supposed to be 2 out of 3 falls, but Perron insisted on it being 1 fall with a 60 minute time limit.

22 October 1936
Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz

2 out of 3 falls: Stan Karoyi drew Dick Perron

25 October 1936
Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz

Peter Glavanoff def. Nagy (most likely Ferenc Nagy)
Sandor Nemeth def. Pesthy
2 out of 3 falls: Stan Karolyi def. Dick Perron (39 minutes) (2:0 falls)

22 November 1936
Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz

Janos Czaja def. Said Kahuta (40 minutes)

21 March 1937
Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz ("big crowd")

Janos Czaja vs. Alfred Bellgardt - The 50 year old Czaja felt bad during the match and wasn't moving well so the match was stopped in the 2nd round and he was taken to the hospital where he died later that night. Janos' death got a ton of attention in the Hungarian newspapers. It was a huge story as he was quite popular. Janos and his brother Josef were the top Hungarian pro wrestling names, and had been for two decades at this point, and Janos' death in a way put the nail in the coffin of Greco-Roman pro wrestling in Hungary.

25 April 1937
Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz

E. Dittrich vs. Lajos Koczka
Istvan Czontos vs. Ferenc Nagy
Peter Glavanoff vs. Josef Kamaras
Josef Czaja vs. Said Kahuta
= Don't know the results.

17 July 1937
Millenáris Sporttelep

Todor Ivanoff vs. Gaborffy
Said Kahuta vs. Milenko Georgevics
Josef Czaja vs. Alfred Bellgardt
= Don't know the results.

American wrestling (freestyle) tournament from 2 September until 16 October 1937 at Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz. Heavyweight placement: Paul Shikat (winner), Sandor Vary (2nd), Regis Siki (3rd), Vilo Bur (4th). Light Heavyweight placement: Stan Karolyi (winner), Michele Leone (2nd), Arthur Ghevaert (3rd), Charles Pierlot (4th). Middleweight placement: Bob Gregory (winner), Al Hamilton (2nd), Jose Almeida (3rd). Lightweight placement: Paul Marton (winner), Maurice Charf (2nd), Gabriel Laurier (3rd), Georges Freymond (4th).

A European Freestyle Championship tournament from 31 March until 1 or 2 May 1938. Held at Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz, but the final 3 shows were at Sportarana. Winner: Mike Brendel (or Stan Karolyi?). Here's what happened. After defeating Mark Passmann on 1 May Brendel became the champion, but then Karolyi said he does not recognize this and challenged Brendel. The jury and Brendel accepted the challenge so on 2 May Karolyi vs. Brendel for the European Championship was to take place. However, I haven't been able to find the result of that match.

A tournament from 2 September until 30 September 1938 at Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz. Winner: Sandor Vary and Kurt Zehe? Vary and the giant Zehe were to wrestle on the final night and if I'm understanding things correctly there was no winner in their match. Two different reports say Vary was the "moral winner" of the tournament. Right after the Greco-Roman tournament finished an American wrestling (freestyle) tournament began. I don't know how long it lasted or who won it.

A European Freestyle Championship tournament from 21 April to 25 May 1939 at Fővárosi Nagy Cirkusz. Final placement: Dick Shikat (winner), Stan Karolyi (2nd), Raja Randi (3rd).

29 June 1939
Angol Park ("nearly 3,000 fans")

Franz Olschowsky def. Milan Vladar
Petersen def. Petrics
Josef Czaja def. Dimitri Martinoff via disqualification (40 minutes)

8 July 1939
Millenáris Sporttelep

Josef Czaja vs. Dimitri Martinoff
= Don't know the result.

Pro wrestling shows continued to be held in Budapest in the 1940s, though not as regularly, and as best as I can tell it was all American/catch style shows. In the previous decades a lot of foreign wrestlers were coming to Budapest to wrestle, but in the 1940s it was mostly Hungarian pros. It's also interesting to mention that before 1942 the shows were being referred to mostly as either American wrestling or freestyle wrestling, but then in 1942 they started calling it pankráció.

[ 02-09-2018, 07:14 AM: Message edited by: Phil_Lions ]

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OMG this is awesome.
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Steve Ogilvie
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Really interesting, thanks Phil.

Let me know if you encounter any early matches for Gedeon Gida, Tibor and Peter Szakacs or Zoltan Boscik.

"Mr 100%"

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Ed Lock from Sydney, Aust
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More great research.

Thank you Phil.



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