Dezső Gyarmati

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Dezső Gyarmati
Dezso Gyarmati.jpg
Personal information
Born(1927-10-23)October 23, 1927
Miskolc, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hungary
DiedAugust 18, 2013(2013-08-18) (aged 85)
Budapest, Hungary
Height186 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight83 kg (183 lb)
SportWater polo
ClubÚjpesti TE
Ferencvárosi TC

Dezső Gyarmati (October 23, 1927 – August 18, 2013) was a Hungarian water polo player and three times Olympic champion; he later became the coach of the Hungarian national water polo team. Widely regarded as a "legendary player",[1] Gyarmati was the most decorated player in the history of the sport.[2]

Early life and family[edit]

Dezső Gyarmati was born in Miskolc, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén.[3]

He married Éva Székely, a former swimmer and 1952 Olympic champion of the 200-metre breaststroke. Their daughter Andrea Gyarmati has competed as a backstroke and butterfly swimmer; she received two Olympic medals in 1972, and is a one-time world record holder for the 100 metres butterfly.[4]

Player career[edit]

Gyarmati was the most successful water polo player in the history of the Olympics. He is widely considered the greatest water polo player of all time.[5] He participated in five different Summer Olympics, winning gold medals with the Hungarian team at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. His team received silver medals at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, and bronze medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[6]

Gyarmati became European Champion two times, in 1954 and in 1962. He played a total of 108 matches with the Hungary national team.[7] He was among the fastest water polo players of his time, with a personal record of 58.5 seconds for 100 meters.[5]

Gyarmati played in the famous Blood in the Water match between Hungary and the Soviet Union at the 1956 Olympics, which occurred weeks after the Soviet invasion of Hungary. FINA stated that while it is usually "remembered as the 'Blood bath of Melbourne' after the scenes of the dying minutes, it was team captain Gyarmati who opened the scoring and set up the other three goals Hungary netted while winning 4-0 en route to the title."[2]

Coaching and administrative career[edit]

After his competitive years, Gyarmati began working as a water polo coach. He left Europe to coach the Colombian national team from 1970-1971.[8]

Gyarmati then returned to Europe and, from 1973 to 1980, coached the Hungary National team. He led them again from 1985 to 1988. Under his coaching, the team gained gold medals at 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, a silver medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, and the bronze medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. They also won the inaugural editions of both the FINA World Championship (in 1973) and the FINA World Cup (in 1979), as well as the European Championship in 1974 and 1977. They were runners-up in the World Championship in 1975 and 1978.[2]

In the 1980s Gyamarti coached Hungarian club teams to several medals in the national league.[2]

Gyarmati served as a member of the board of the Hungarian Water Polo Federation. He also wrote several books about water polo, including a history of Hungarian water polo.[2]

Political career[edit]

After the 1989 break-up of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, Gyamarti entered politics. Benefitting from his achievements and name recognition, he was elected Member of Parliament from the National List of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) in the 1990 Hungarian parliamentary election.[4] He served as a member of the Committee on Municipality, Public Administration, Internal Security and Police.

He unsuccessfully ran for a parliamentary seat during the 1994 and 1998 parliamentary elections. In 2003, he was appointed as Chairman of the Sports Section of the Fidesz's Cultural Department.[9]


Bust of Dezső Gyarmati

In addition to his Olympic medals, he received other recognition of his achievements:


Gyarmati died in Budapest on August 18, 2013 at the age of 85.[11] In a statement, FINA said that they were "in mourning", calling him one of the best water polo players of all time.[2] FINA described him thus: "The left-handed genius could play in all positions of the field. Known for his fearless approach in every game, he was able to decide the biggest clashes single-handedly."[2]

FINA in their statement said that, despite a long illness and "broken" health, he had attended Hungary's last match before the 2013 World Championship and watched Hungary's victory in the Championship from his hospital bed.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ FINA in mourning - Water polo legend Dezso Gyarmati passed away Archived 2013-08-24 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "FINA in mourning - Water polo legend Dezso Gyarmati passed away". Archived from the original on 2013-08-24. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  3. ^ AP Aug 19, 2013, 02.56AM IST (1927-10-23). "3-time Olympic champion Dezso Gyarmati dies at 85". Times of India. Retrieved 2013-08-20.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b "Hungarian Water Polo legend Dezső Gyarmati passes away". Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  5. ^ a b "Dezso Gyarmati - The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games". 1927-10-23. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  6. ^ Profile: "Dezsõ Gyarmati" Archived 2007-02-09 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved on January 25, 2008)
  7. ^ a b "Water polo legend Dezso Gyarmati dies". Archived from the original on 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  8. ^ "Professional Water Polo DVDs | Water Polo News | Players | Ndash, Champion, Olympic, Waterpolo, His | Dezso Gyarmati celebrates today". Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  9. ^ a b c "Sport: Meghalt Gyarmati Dezső" (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  10. ^ "DESZO GYARMATI (HUN) – 1976 Honor – Water Polo Player" Archived 2008-01-22 at the Wayback MachineInternational Swimming Hall of Fame (Retrieved on January 25, 2008)
  11. ^ Meghalt Gyarmati Dezső (in Hungarian)