The passengers of the Pan American Clipper Trade Wind, which landed in San Francisco Christmas Eve 1956, had made a soul-testing decision. Only shortly before in Australia they had asked SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for aid in finding freedom in America. Now these Hungarian and Rumanian Olympians took their first look at their new land. It was an emotional moment, set against a background of torment and trial. More than a year later its meaning is still strong, for wherever I go a question as frequent as any is, "How are they doing now?"
From latest reports, the 29 who came to stay are working hard, studying hard and, as one might expect, playing hard. They have scattered over the country, but by far the largest number are living in California. This has already had noteworthy effects on sport in that sports-conscious state. At USC Nick Martin, member of the Olympic water polo team, and Joseph Deutsch and Gabor Nagy, who also hold scholarships there, helped to give the Trojans one of their best water polo teams in history. In the San Francisco area Georges Piller, twice world's sabre champion, and his protégés George Domolky, Danny Magay and Tom Orley hope to make the Golden Gate the new fencing center of the world. They're off to a good start. Piller, probably the world's greatest fencing coach, is instructing at the University of California, San Jose State College and two girls' schools. Magay last summer won the U.S. sabre title. Domolky this winter is winning B plusses at Stanford. Meanwhile Magay, a U. of C. student, has married his girl, who successfully fled Hungary to join him. They came out of church under the upraised swords of Piller, Domolky and Orley. "It was," Bureau Chief Dick Pollard says, "quite a sight!" And did nothing to discourage the rattling of sabres in California.
For Mihaly Igloi, whose runners have set almost 20 world's records, and sub-four-minute miler Laszlo Tabori it was for a while a frustrating year, to the point where rumor had them returning to Hungary. Everyone in this country, including Igloi and Tabori, is happy that they didn't. For Igloi is track coach at the remarkable Santa Clara Valley Youth Village, which Father Walter Schmidt founded (19TH HOLE, SI, Jan. 13). And Tabori, working in San Jose, is working out with Igloi, who now feels he will be training runners who can beat the best in the next Olympics.
So the answer to that question seems to be, "They're doing fine." Including Gymnast Andrea Bodo Molnar and her new baby girl (below). When last she wrote she said, "Thanks a lot again. Get us sometimes any letters. And don't forget your good friends, the Hungarian sportsmen anywhere in America."
March 3, 1958
That would be mighty hard to do.