The Olympic Games’ mighty middleweights (75kg)
August 1st, 2016 / IBA
As London steadied itself to host the first post-war Games in 1948, a Hungarian boxer named Laszlo Papp was quietly preparing a piece of Olympic history at his gym in Budapest. A compact southpaw, Papp would become an untouchable gold-medal machine for the next twelve years, starting with an unerring demolition of the competition in London involving three KOs and two 3:0 victories.
Four years later in Helsinki, Papp was at it again, this time in the short-lived light middleweight category. Two KOs in his opening two bouts, the first against USA’s tough ‘Spider’ Webb, set him on course for a second gold, again won without dropping a single round. Hungary had found a new hero, and Laszlo Papp earned a global reputation as an undisputed boxing genius. Another American, José Torres, would be the only man to take a round from the Hungarian in an Olympic contest, but the 2:1 result in the final of the Melbourne 1956 Games saw Papp complete the first-ever Olympic Boxing hat-trick, a feat that wouldn’t be repeated for another twenty years.
Cuba’s Ariel Hernandez came close, winning back-to-back golds at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996, repeating the achievement of Britain’s Harry Mallin in the 1920s. Also deserving of a mention in the annals of Olympic middleweight history is the American Floyd Patterson. With Laszlo Papp now boxing at light middleweight, Patterson dominated the field in Helsinki in 1952, winning gold in style with a first-round TKO of Romania’s Vasile Tita. Patterson’s amateur career record was 40:4, including a remarkable 37 knockouts.