Szandor Szabo (Peter Szabo)
Born: Jan. 4, 1906
Buried: Woodlawn Cemetery
Santa Monica, CA
When it comes to the short lists of World’s Heavyweight Champions, his name is there, having
defeated Bronko Nagurski, for the NWA World crown, but very few other pro wrestlers, even
World’s Champions, can claim to have earned a letter of commendation from the President of
the United States!
It seems pretty remarkable that any one individual could help an estimated 200,000 refugees,
and that is what Szabo did, receiving the letter of commendation from President Eisenhower,
for helping Hungarian refugees come to the United States. Szabo was born in Kosice, which
was then part of Hungary (It became Czechosolvakia years later but is currently Slovakia).
The May 7th 1953 edition of Wrestling As You Like It, Szabo had fan clubs in both La
Crescenta and Santa Monica California. It should be noted how much more active fans were
in the days before you could instantly type something and post it for worldwide consumption
without a second thought, the gate receipts alone can tell you that there is a huge difference
in the level of fans’ interest.
Before Szabo came to California (where he settled the rest of his life) he was a big deal on
the East Coast, even being a passenger in the car during one of the infamous Toots Mondt
Szabo had quite the amateur background, having won a bronze medal at 82 kilograms
(around 180 lbs) at the European Championships in 1926, and a gold medal in 1927.
Fate brought Szandor to American in 1929 came to the United States as a member of the
Hungarian national Greco-Roman wrestling team.
There can’t be mention of Szabo without talk of his recording career for Hammerlock Records.
He crooned “Hold Me In Your Arms” for the label, b/w “It’s All In The Game!” about his mat
exploits. Imagine, if you will, Szandor’s chagrin, as fans would chant “It’s All In The Game!” at
the former World’s champion after a loss!
Szandor had the distinction of beating “Champ” Joe Pazandak on April 18th 1952, and thus
was given defense of the “Wrestling Jackpot” (a spinoff of Pazandak’s “Beat the Champ”
segment on KTLA) on KECA. Szabo, twice lost and regained the “title”, once to Dr. Lee
Grable and also to the Zebra Kid (George Bollas).
Was also invited to, and participated in, JWP “World League” Japanese pro wrestling
tournament by the late, great Rikidozan, which is regarded as one of the revolutionary
Japanese tournaments that brought over a wealth of American (gai-jin) talent to Japan.
Biography by Robert Murillo
|Sandor Szabo Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling