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Károly Kárpáti (also Károly Kellner, born July 2, 1906 in Eger – September 23, 1996 in Budapest) was a Hungarian Olympic wrestling champion of Jewish heritage.[1]

Károly Kárpáti
Born(1906-07-02)2 July 1906
Eger, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Eger, Hungary)
Died23 September 1996(1996-09-23) (aged 90)
Budapest, Hungary
Olympic medal record
Men's Freestyle wrestling
Gold medal – first place 1936 Berlin Lightweight
Silver medal – second place 1932 Los Angeles Lightweight


Károly Kárpáti was born on July 2, 1906 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He won a gold medal in 1936 in the Lightweight Freestyle class. The Jewish wrestler's victory in the Berlin 1936 Nazi Olympics provided special significance, because it came at the expense of Germany's vaunted titleholder, Wolfgang Ehrl. He was one of a number of Jewish athletes who won medals at the Nazi Olympics in Berlin in 1936.[2]

Kárpáti won a silver medal in the Lightweight Freestyle class at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1928 at the Amsterdam Games, he finished fourth in the same weight class.

Kárpáti was Hungary's first "freestyle" wrestler, winning his first Hungarian National Junior title in 1925. He went on to win ten Hungarian National Championships, as well as European Lightweight wrestling crowns in 1927, 1929, 1930, and 1935. He also won one silver and two bronze medals in European Championships competitions during the years in between.

Kárpáti was a Hungarian wrestling master trainer-coach and Olympics coach for many years. He authored six books on the sport of wrestling.

The Hungarian champion listed among his hobbies Einstein's Theory of Relativity. In 1982, International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch presented the bronze medal of the Olympic Order to Kárpáti for his lifelong work with youth in sports education.

The HolocaustEdit

During the years of the Second World War and worsening of the antisemitic policy in Hungary, and the Holocaust, as an Olympic Champion Kárpáti was initially exempt from forced labor camp service or concentration camps to which Jews were sent. Ultimately, however, he was arrested and sent to work on a labor crew in Nadvirna, Poland and in Western Ukraine.[3] He there saw the killing of a fellow inmate, Olympic champion fencer Attila Petschauer, and later recalled: “The guards shouted: ‘You, Olympic fencing medal winner . . . let’s see how you can climb trees.’ It was midwinter and bitter cold, but they ordered him to undress, then climb a tree. The amused guards ordered him to crow like a rooster, and sprayed him with water. Frozen from the water, he died shortly after.”[4][5][6][7]

For the rest of the war he succeeded in hiding in the Banki woods and in Pest with family and friends.[8] Kárpáti died in 1996 at age 90.[9]

See alsoEdit

Sources and external linksEdit


  1. ^ Paul Taylor (2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics : with a Complete Review of Jewish Olympic Medallists. ISBN 9781903900888.
  2. ^ "The Nazi Olympics (Berlin 1936)—Jewish Athletes; Olympic Medalists". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Lipman, Steve (August 8, 2008). "In Attila's Memory". New York Jewish Week. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  5. ^ In the Darkroom - Susan Faludi
  6. ^ Who Betrayed the Jews?: The Realities of Nazi Persecution in the Holocaust - Agnes Grunwald-Spier
  7. ^ Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ about Karpati in the Hungarian sport journal Nemzetisport Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine