|Full name||BELLAK Laszlo|
|Nationality||Hungary United States|
Table tennis career
Known as the "Clown Prince of Table Tennis," the acrobatic Bellak was the entertainer, the showman, the man the crowd loved to watch, the man who injected fun into the contest and a man who played a major role in furthering the sport.
Table tennis started for Laszlo Bellak on his 13th birthday. Like many who were to follow, his introduction was on the dining room table.
He represented Hungary 59 times in international competition; at the World Championships he won 21 medals (7 gold medals – including 6 Swaythling Cups (Men’s World Championships as a member of the Hungarian National Team) in 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1935, and 1938, 9 silver, 5 bronze) but the biggest prize of all eluded him. He never won the St. Bride Vase, the trophy awarded to the winner of the Men’s Singles event.
In 1928 he was a vital member of the team that captured the Swaythling Cup, and reached the final of the Men’s Singles event and came within a hair’s breadth of winning. In the final, against compatriot, Zoltan Mechlovits, he led by two games to nil and 20–17; he had three match points, three championship points. Mechlovits 37 years old, was the more experienced player; he had reached the final two years earlier at the inaugural event, losing to Roland Jacobi, also of Hungary. Bellak took risks. They cost him dear; they were risks that he would rue for the rest of his life. Mechlovits won 8–12, 18–21, 24–22, 21–12, 21–15.
In 1930 in Berlin and in 1933 in Paris he reached the Men’s Singles final; on both occasions he lost, on both occasions the tactical skills of Viktor Barna prevailed.
In 1938, on his farewell appearance for Hungary in the World Championships, he did depart with gold. The event was played in London, and a local girl Wendy Woodhead needed a Mixed Doubles partner; she was paired with Bellak. Incredibly they won the title. They had never partnered each other prior to then, and they never partnered each other after the event!
Bellak represented Hungary from 1928 to 1938 before moving to live in the United States when conflict broke out in Europe. Soon after his success in London, he moved to the United States. During the Second World War he volunteered for the U.S. Army and spent five years in it, serving principally in India and Burma. He was decorated three times, and was honorably discharged with the Victory Medal, attaining the rank of Sergeant.
He also captured the U.S. Men’s Singles in 1938; the U.S. Men’s Doubles in 1937, 1939, and 1943; and the U.S. Mixed Doubles in 1941.
He was a 23 time U.S. Champion and won the men's championship for each age division attainable.
Halls of Fame
Bellak was inducted into the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame in 1980.
Bellak was inducted into the International Table Tennis Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.
He was inducted into the Florida Table Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996.
After the war, he became a lithographer and formed his own company, Bellak Color Corporation.
He also authored Table Tennis—How A New Sport Was Born: The History of the Hungarian Team Winning 73 Gold Medals, (1990).
- "." (PDF). ITTF. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- "Florida Table Tennis Hall of Fame Biographies". Swfloridatabletennis.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- "Farewell to the Clown Prince of Table Tennis, Laszlo Bellak (1911–2006), 9/20/06
- Jewish Sports bio
- Jews in Sports bio