On 6 May, which is the Day of Hungarian Sport, the Wall of Hungarian Sports Stars was inaugurated at the Hungarian University of Sports Sciences (HUSS) in a ceremony amidst huge media interest.
Another milestone has been reached for our university which has undergone a model change. The inauguration of the Wall of Hungarian Sports Stars was not just a celebration, but also a moment in sports history, as the sports relic destroyed in the 2015 fire, in the revival of which Chancellor Dr. Ferenc Geinzwein and Prof. Dr. h. c. Lajos Mocsai played a significant role, was finally moved to a new, worthy place.
It is no wonder that 15 minutes before the official start of the event, the Athens corridor where the venue was held had already been packed with media and prominent representatives of the Hungarian sport of the past 60 years including Olympic, World and European champions.
As known, in 1992 Lajos Mocsai initiated that the Wall of Hungarian Sports Stars should be raised. It was the Hemingway Foundation that finally created the wall, the aim of which was to commemorate the living and deceased excellence of Hungarian elite sportspeople in the form of handprints. However, the relics were severely damaged when the athletics hall burned down in 2015. Some of the handprints were saved by experts, but others were not. The agreement that settled the fate of the wall was signed in October 2020 by Prof. Lajos Mocsai, then Rector of the University of Physical Education and George F. Hemingway, former owner of the Budapest Honvéd football team. Since then, many of our Olympic, World and European Championship medallists have had their handprints re-captured on the newly inaugurated Wall of Sports Stars.
It was Prof. Dr. h. c. Lajos Mocsai, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, who addressed the audience first. The former rector of the university pointed out that such a major event could only have taken place at HUSS.
“There could not be a better place for the Wall of Hungarian Sports Stars than the Hungarian University of Sports Sciences that looks back on a history of almost 100 years. The HUSS is uniquely the oldest institution in the world dealing with physical culture and physical education. Once again, we thank George F. Hemingway for making this sport relic possible. I think it is important to mention that a handprint is also particularly important because it contains the fate and personality of its owner.”
The next speaker was Zsolt Gyulay, President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC). He reminded that the Hungarian Athletics Club held its first outdoor event in athletics and boxing on 6 May 1875, marking the beginning of the Hungarian sporting life. Since 2000, it has been celebrated as the Day of the Hungarian Sport.
“The Hungarian University of Sports Sciences and the Hungarian Olympic Committee would not exist without each other, which is supported by the fact that almost 80 Hungarian Olympic champions have graduated from this university and several Olympians are currently studying at HUSS. The HOC and HUSS share a number of common values, such as the olympic spirit, the olympic annuity and the dual career model. The latter has been a lifeline for many athletes who have just finished their careers and have found a way to thrive in civilian life," said the president.
Finally, Dr. habil. Tamás Sterbenz, the Rector of HUSS, accompanied by a short speech with the new logo of the university in the background, ceremonially inaugurated the wall and presented the new logo of the institution.
“I am very glad that the Hungarian Wall of Hungarian Sports Stars is located in a place where it can be easily seen by the students of the university. We have not only renewed our infrastructure, education and content, but also our name and image. The holy crown in the logo, the laurel wreath, the main entrance of the old university building and the year of its foundation symbolise the four members of the institution's name," the Rector emphasised.
There was one surprise left at the end of the ceremony. Liu Shaolin and Liu Shaoang, Olympic, World and European short track speed skating champions as well as Attila Vári, two-time Olympic and World Champion water polo player provided their handprints.
There are currently 81 handprints on the wall and it is hoped that more will be added in the near future.