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Sandor Szabo (1906 - 1966)

Real Name - Sandor Szabo
Lifespan?/?/1906 - 10/16/1966
?'?" 224 lbs. - Santa Monica, CA

Athletic BackgroundWrestling

AliasesPeter Szabo

Peak Years1940s

Place in HistorySandor Szabo is one of the most notable stars of the 1940s when the sport was going through transition and trying to compensate for the impact of World War II.  Szabo, a Hungarian, initially got his big push on the East Coast as one of Jack Pfefer’s ethnic attractions.  While not really a “freak,” the Hungarian was above average in size.  In the late 1930s, Szabo relocated to the West Coast, where he found his greatest success.  Once established as a top star in San Francisco for Joe Malcewicz, Szabo went over some of the major stars of the day including Wild Bill Longson, Dean Detton, Man Mountain Dean and even an aging Strangler Lewis.  During that era numerous regional world titles emerge and Szabo was amongst the most notable regular challengers or claimants.  His most significant run was with the NWA (Association, not Alliance) belt, which he won from Bronko Nagurski in St. Louis.  This title would be one of the most widely recognized ones that were unified by Lou Thesz.  Interestingly, Thesz and Szabo became close friends when both lived in Santa Monica in the 1950s as Thesz was the child of Hungarian immigrants.  Throughout the remainder of the World War II era, Sandor Szabo was successful on top holding “world titles” as recognized in Minneapolis, Montreal and Boston.  In the late 1940s, Szabo returned to the West Coast and eventually got an office job with the Los Angeles office.  Television was soon to follow and the big Hungarian enjoyed his greatest exposure.  It was the era of colorful characters like Baron Michele Leone, Wild Red Berry and Danny McShain.  While Szabo was just a straightforward wrestler in his forties, he was a key figure.  Playing off his Hungarian heritage as an ethnic curiosity as he did in his early years and often being inaccurately labeled as an Olympic champion.  Szabo even sang a song, “Hold Me in Your Arms” for the wrestling-based Hammerlock Records.  Szabo also had the honor of going to Japan for the World League, which was one of the biggest events Rikidozan’s JWA ever staged.  He alongside other luminaries of the day included Killer Kowalski, Pat O’Connor, Haystacks Calhoun, Cowboy Bob Ellis and a young Gorilla Monsoon.  Szabo continued on as a booker in Los Angeles before dying of a heart attack in 1966.  Sandor Szabo might be overlooked by history, but he was a significant character who worked on top in the World War II period and was a key person in one of the first territories that benefited by television.