By Ken Hissner: Hungary’s three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and European unbeaten Middleweight champ Laszlo Papp was a leading competitor however never ever able to fight for the world title. Let’s check out this and learn why.
Papp had a 301-12-6 record of which Boxrec reveals a 125-3 amateur record while winning his very first Gold Medal in 1948 in London, England beating fighters from Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, and England.
In 1952 in Helsinki, Finland, Papp won his 2nd Olympic Gold medal beating American Spider Webb, who ended his amateur profession at 39-1-1, and the Chicago leading competitor as a pro was 34-6, consisting of wins over future world champs Dick Tiger, Joey Giardello and Terry Downes. A set of losses to future champ Gene Fullmer and a last bout loss to Tiger were amongst his bouts.
After beating Tiger in the 1952 Olympics, Papp beat challengers from Canada, Bulgaria, Argentina, and South Africa. In 1956 in his 3rd Olympics in Australia, Papp beat a fighter from Argentina and won a rematch reversing a loss to Poland’s Zbignew Pietrzykowski, who would later on lose to Cassius Clay in the 1960 Olympic last in Rome, Italy. In the last, Papp beat future world light heavyweight champ Jose “Chegui” Torres.
Professional boxing was forbidden in Hungary, so the southpaw Papp combated out of Vienna, Austria. He even needed to endeavor to France to get great sparring. He was dogged by hand injuries which regularly kept him out of the ring.
Papp turned expert in 1957 and won his very first 7 battles, consisting of beating French champ Andre Drill 51-5. In his 8th fight, he drew with Germinal Ballarin, 45-11-1, in Paris, France though breaking his hand in the 3rd round in going the 10 round range.
Papp was 11-0-1 in 1960 when he drew with Italy’s Giancarlo Garbelli, 67-7-8, in Italy. In 1961 he two times stopped Germany’s Peter Mueller, 116-20-14 in Germany in back-to-back battles.
In 1962 he beat America’s Ralph “Tiger” Jones, 52-31-5, scoring knockdowns in the second, 3rd, and 10th rounds. Jones had a win over “Sugar” Ray Robinson throughout his profession. He retired after this fight. In Papp’s next fight, he won the European middleweight title by stopping Denmark’s “Gentleman Chris Christensen, 49-14-3, in Vienna.
In 1963 Papp, in an EBU title defense, stopped Spain’s Luis Folledo, 79-2-2, in Barcelona, Spain, scoring 2 knockdowns in the 8th round. In 1964 in what would be his last bout, he beat UK’s Mick Leahy, 46-15-7. After this fight, the Hungarian federal government declined to enable him to fight for the world title in 1965 since boxing for monetary gain was “incompatible with socialist concepts.” Papp retired after this bout.
Papp was on the edge of a world title fight against champ Joey Giardello out of Philadelphia. I was informed by promoter Lou Lucchesse the FBI appeared at his Leesport, Pennsylvania door one day asking why he was attempting to call Papp. He informed them he represented world champ Giardello and was notified Papp isn’t enabled to leave Europe after withdrawing his authorization to take a trip abroad.
“I was one win far from a world title shot, however it would have indicated going to America, and my federal government didn’t authorize,” Papp stated in an interview after the fall of communism in Hungary in 1989. “I believe it was simply jealousy. I was making more cash than the majority of them. There was a great deal of antagonism.” He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001 with a 27-0-2 record with 15 interruptions.