Wrestler Gergo Szabo: pawn in a porn powerplay?
Photo Courtesy Pacific Sun Entertainment
Gergo Szabo was one of Hungary's top-ranked freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers in the 66kg (130 pounds) weight class. He competed most recently in the United States at the 2003 World Wrestling Championships held at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Szabo was defeated in a 9-5 match by U.S. wrestler Evan MacDonald, who will compete at the Olympics in Athens.
Ranked fifth in the European Championship and ninth in the World Championship, Szabo stood a chance to at least place, if not win, a medal in Athens. That ended when Hungarian media reported on his performing in almost a dozen gay porn videos under the name Sergio Foster.
Among the videos, the ironically titled Secrets of a Wrestler series features Szabo and others in authentic wrestling scenes, then having sex in a sports facility near Budapest.
Hungarian laws prohibit the sale of such videos in their own country, which perhaps led the naive athletes to believe what producers told them—that no one they knew would find out. But the Internet quickly made their faces—and bodies—known to the world.
Why would an Olympic athlete appear in hardcore porn, if actors only make a reported 700 Euros ($866 USD) per video? Mark Kleim, who broke the story in English on his Web site www.gaypornblog.com, referred me to a Hungarian insider, who translated his country's news coverage.
The tabloid Szines Mai Lap interviewed Szabo's coach, Tamas Csokas, who said that Szabo had family financial problems that 'seemed to be solved by the offers of pornographers. That is why he said yes to their request,' Csokas said. 'Gergo is not homosexual. He just needed money, but he has already been sorry for his mistakes.'
The article reported that Szabo's team has confidence in their teammate, who gave up gay porn to compete fulltime. 'His results are really important, because Hungarians have never had such successes in this category before,' Csokas added. 'The whole team fights for Gergo. They love him.'
Despite such support, in May 2004 Gergo Szabo was forced off the team after a decision from the Hungarian Wrestling Federation. Szabo was one of the first athletes in porn to make Hungarian headlines, yet his isn't an isolated case.
An innocuous 1995 softcore video called Wrestle featured men of the Hungarian wrestling team grappling naked. Greenwood Cooper Studio also produced Gymnastikos, which featured members of the Olympic gold medal Hungarian Men's Gymnastic Team.
Those delicate beginnings may have sparked what Hungary's media calls a huge gay porn industry that includes prostitution, the secretive compliance of officials in Hungarian athletics, and the desperation of financially strapped athletes.
According to a www.Blikk.hu article, Hungarian journalist Laszlo Menyhert Meszaros' book Plastic Stars reveals 'the dirty secrets of Hungarian media moguls and superstars, leaders of TV channels, who use their positions and their programs to hunt for young musclemen, offering them jobs, publicity, and careers in return for sex and gay porn activities.'
The Hungarian Web site www.nyugat.hu covered the porn/athlete connection in a series of articles about bodybuilders who moonlight as prostitutes, including Mr. Ukraine/Mr. Universe/Mr. World 1991, Attila Szabo.
Attila Szabo's coach and mentor is Istvan Kovacs, founder and owner of Budapest's renowned Koko Gym. The first Hungarian gay hardcore video, Knock Out, was shot at the Koko Gym.
Another video, Ambassadors of the Ice, was shot in December 2002 on an ice rink and in locker rooms at Szekesfehervar's Alba Volan Ice Hockey Bowl, home of a national championship team. The rink was rented for a week at 100 Euros ($124 USD) per hour. Management claimed they were told a TV commercial was being shot.
The www.Blikk.hu article quotes 'Ricardo,' who performed in that video and found the official's lack of knowledge 'very strange, because employees of the ice hockey bowl lurked around the performers, out of curiosity.' When Ricardo and his costars needed anything, the rink's staff were entirely at their service.
I spoke with a representative of Pacific Sun Entertainment, the Southern California company that distributes most of director Csaba Borbely's videos. He asked to remain anonymous, and was unable to arrange an interview with Szabo. But he did say that his company no longer works with Borbely, and that porn gives the athletes quick cash.
'The economy in Hungary made it very tempting for them,' he says. 'Besides, the whole labeling system of straight, gay, and bisexual is not prevalent there. A lot of them don't have a problem with it.'
The revised 2003 disciplinary code of the Hungarian Wrestling Federation gave orders to investigate Szabo's porn past for the previous two years. Yet supporters of the wrestler say his disqualification was not legitimate, because he had not made any videos since 2001.
Tamas Gaspar, secretary general of the Hungarian Wrestling Federation, in a January 2004 interview in the Hungarian Szines Mai Lap, said, 'We have never had such a scandalous affair in our sport. A public figure must keep certain rules. It is not our business if somebody were gay. But if he did gay porn, that is a quite another story.'
Yet no sports officials accused of having financial ties to the porn industry have been investigated.
The hypocrisy of Hungarian sports officials who allow the taping of porn videos at sports facilities, then shun athletes who perform in them, leaves that country with a conflict-laden erotic export—and without an accomplished, if not misguided, athlete to represent them in Athens.
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