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Olivér Halassy, the Legend of Hungarian Water Polo

The bust of Olivér HalassyBudapestGreater Budapest

The early 20th century provided no shortage of Hungarian heroes in aquatic sports: Olivér Halassy, who made his mark in both swimming and water polo, was one such giant. You can visit the statue of the legendary athlete in front of the sports and leisure centre in Újpest that bears his name.

The life story of Olivér Halassy is an example of exceptional physical and mental endurance. After losing part of his left leg in an accident, he turned his talents to swimming and water polo instead of land-based sports. In addition to becoming Hungarian champion numerous times, he won the European championship in swimming once, the European championship in water polo three times and Olympic gold in water polo twice. The fact that he only had two hours’ rest between winning the gold medal in swimming and the water polo final, where he also won a gold medal with his team at the 1931 European Championships in Paris, is a testament to his physical prowess. 


He helped a number of persecuted people escape during the Second World War. His remarkable career was cut short in 1946 when he was murdered during a robbery. He was shot, and his father-in-law's car was stolen, probably by Soviet soldiers. Five thousand people attended his funeral.

Shooting for goal cast in bronze

Water sports fans may want to visit the legendary athlete’s grave, which is in the Megyeri Cemetery in Újpest. A bust of Olivér Halassy was unveiled in 2011 in front of the sports and leisure centre named after him in Újpest, the area of the city he came from. The sculpture of the water polo player, rising from limestone waves and preparing to shoot, is the work of Dávid Tóth. The bust was unveiled in the presence of Olivér Halassy’s daughter and great-grandchildren. A former teammate from the glory days, Gyula Enyedi, also paid tribute in a touching moment. 

Explore Újpest

If you’re in Újpest, there’s plenty more to visit once you have seen the bust of the legendary water polo player. The district’s main square, as well as the eclectic Art Nouveau Town Hall built in 1900, the Queen of Heaven Church, and the Synagogue are all worth seeing. The water tower and the Megyeri Bridge in Újpest are great photo opportunities whether it’s day or night.