George Szabo, 83
Funeral services for George Szabo, 83, of Gainesville, will be held at 1 p.m. today, Oct. 7, 2020, at Clinkingbeard Funeral Home in Gainesville. Visitation will be from noon until service time at the funeral home. A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Silver Lake, Kansas. Mr. Szabo died Oct. 3 near Tecumseh.
He was born May 3, 1937, in Budapest, Hungary. He grew up on his family’s farm near the town of Kormend, and in 1956, he joined the Freedom Fighters who led an unsuccessful revolt against the Soviet-imposed communist government. On Dec. 26, 1956, he was shot in the shoulder and the leg as he made an illegal escape into Austria. He was carried to a nearby house by an unknown stranger who then disappeared into the night. Convinced he had been rescued by an angel, Mr. Szabo said in a 2011 Ozark County Times story, “That’s why I do what I do for the good Lord.”
In Austria, he learned to be a bricklayer, and in 1959, he came to U.S., eventually settling in Chicago, where he earned a living doing cement work. After learning that his boss was a professional wrestler, Mr. Szabo went to a school for professional wrestlers in 1963, adopting the professional name “the Hungarian kid.” He married and moved to Aurora, Illinois, where he worked in heavy-equipment manufacturing and opened his own professional-wrestling school while continuing to appear on the pro-wrestling circuit. Later he became a promoter for the World Wrestling Organization.
After retiring in 2001, he visited a family member in Mountain Home, Arkansas, with his wife, the former Marjorie Barkes. Mr. Szabo liked the area and its people, and he and his wife moved to Gainesville soon after that visit. They later divorced.
In 2011, Mr. Szabo organized a “Wrestle-Mania” event at Gainesville High School, complete with professional wrestling ring, as a fundraiser for the Youth Empowerment Project. The fundraiser generated $2,000 for the student organization.
He is survived by Willa Luthi, his “significant other,” of Tecumseh; five children, Zeno Hernblom and wife Teri of Illinois, John Szabo and wife Judith of Bloomington, Illinois, Sharon Allen of Waycross, Georgia, Michael Szabo of Gainesville and Melissa Delzeit and husband Jim of Troy, Kansas; 20 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one son, George Szabo Jr; and one son-in-law, David Allen.
Memorial contributions may be made to the funeral home to help with final expenses.
Arrangements by Clinkingbeard Funeral Home, Gainesville.