Bellak, Laszlo 'Laci'
Bellak was one of the greatest table tennis players in history. Known as the "Clown Prince," Bellak won eight world championships between 1928-1938. All of Bellak's titles were in the team competition. Laszlo lost the men's singles worlds three times, which caused many to call him "the greatest player never to win a world singles title."
Birth and Death Dates:
Born in Budapest, Bellak and boyhood friend Victor Barna began playing table tennis at Bellak's house after his father gave him a set for his 13th birthday. Both Bellak and Barna began playing in parlors around Budapest. They met Sandor Glancz, added him to the mix; and in 1927, they helped the National Sports Club capture the Hungarian team championship. The following year, Bellak was a member of the Hungarian team that captured the world championship. He also won the silver medal in men's singles and the bronze in men's doubles (with Glancz).
In 1929, Bellak and the Hungarians repeated as world champions and 'Laci' also repeated with Glancz as silver medalists in the doubles event. Laszlo competed in the mixed doubles with Magda Gal and captured another silver medal. The following year, Bellak won his third world championship with the Hungarian team and again finished second in the men's singles (to lifelong friend Victor Barna). That year, he also won bronze medals in men's doubles and mixed doubles.
Between 1931-1935, Bellak and Hungary captured four more world championships. Laci also finished with a silver medal in men's singles for a third time in 1933, losing again to Barna. In the mid-1930s, Bellak, his friend Sandor Glancz, and others toured the United States and played in over 40 cities. Bellak then captured the U.S. Open men's singles championship in 1937 and 1938. In 1938, he also won his final world championship with the Hungarian team. That year, he and Barna won the silver medal in the men's doubles. Bellak is a member of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
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