Bela Karolyi
Feel No Fear

Karolyi was born on September 13, 1942 in Kolozsvár, Hungary (now Cluj-Napoca, Romania). After disagreements with the Romanian Federation officials, Karolyi moved to the United States during a gymnastics tour in 1981. First he settled in Oklahoma; however, later he was approached about investing in a gym in Houston, Texas. He and his wife, Marti, moved to Houston. The gym ran into financial problems, so Karolyi bought the gym. Now he has a different gym; he found the land while hunting with some friends. It has turned into a ranch along with a state of the art gymnasium training world class athletes. Karolyi was a very popular coach renowned for coaching the gymnast Nadia Comăneci in Romania. Comăneci was the first gymnast to ever receive a perfect 10 at the Olympic Games. In 1984 Karolyi coached American all-around champion Mary Lou Retton and uneven bars gold medalist Julianne McNamara in the Olympics. After his great achievements during the 1984 Olympics he was named the coach of the womens US gymnastic Olympic team for the 1988 Olympics. Karolyi retired from coaching after the 1996 Olympics, but still has a gymnastics' camp in New Waverly, Texas. In 1997, he was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Of the numerous gymnasts Karolyi coached Mary Lou Retton, Betty Okino, Kerri Strug, Teodora Ungureanu, Nadia Comaneci, Kim Zmeskal, Kristie Phillips and Dominique Moceanu were among the famous. .

"But back then, back then all I concentrated on were my kids, their preparation, and their successes" (Karolyi 68).
In this quote, Karolyi shows his dedication to the sport and his gymnasts. At this point in his life, he soley focused on training his gymnasts and shaping them into the best athletes possible. He gave his life to his gymnasts and the sport as a whole which is one of the many reasons he is one of the greatest coaches of all time.

"'Another thing, do you know what it means to lose thirty pounds? That's the minimum you will have to lose in order to move adequately. Your conditioning will be the ultimate torture'" (Karolyi 84).
Karolyi was a honest coach; he told the gymnasts what they needed to hear- not what they wanted to hear. This quote shows that he would say something and stick to it. Nadia, a famous gymnast who previously quite gymnastics, came back to him over-weight and out of shape, yet in four weeks Karolyi made her the World Champion in the balance beam.

(Karolyi's Camp: Training Future Olympic Gymnasts)

"In August 1982 we became our own landlord, and the building was put in our name. From that moment on we stood on our own two feet" (Karolyi 134).
Here Karolyi talks about being in America, and finally buying the gym. This was a monumental time because Karolyi and his wife no longer had to rely on anyone else, or worry about paying bills to landlords. They were able to live and run their gym the way they wanted to.

"Old ways of thinking die hard" (Karolyi 136).
Karolyi is a very old-fashioned man. He has his beliefs, and he sticks to them no matter what. This also applies to his training of athletes. He is old-fashioned in the way he trains them, and sometimes he is critiqued because he is thought to work his athletes too harshly.


"I have always been a fighter. When I arrived in the United States I fought my own fears. I fought to find work, to learn English, and to carve a niche for myself and my family in our new country" (Karolyi 137).
This quote shows Karolyi's personality. He is a fighter for what he wants; he loves his family and wants the best for them. Karolyi came to America wanting to those three things, and he accomplished all of them. He showed this fighter attitude in his work as a gymnastics coach, coaching various athletes and team who won multiple World Championship and Olympic gold metals.
"Because I know more than anyone else that I gave that child....the light. I gave them the chance to be somebody" (Karolyi 188)
Karolyi sometime seems as though all he cares about is winning; however, this quote shows that he wants to make his gymnasts better people. He wants to be able to help them grow into young woman and transform their lives into something they will look back on and be proud of. He wants to teach them hard work and qualities that will take them far in life outside of gymnastics.
I learned a lot from the project about American History. Karolyi was an immigrant, so it was very interesting to learn about the differences between Romania and America. The differences were great not only in politics and social issues, but also the way of life and sports. The government controls so much in Karolyi's home country, and it makes me thankful to live in the United States. It also made me aware of the history of gymnastics in America and how much we have improved throughout the years. One of the main reasons for this change was Bela Karolyi.
Works Citied:
"040710_bela_karolyi_hmed" Web. 19 Nov. 2009. [[ 11_bela_karolyi_oozing_with_his_bias_on_nbc.html]].

"20080410_011747" Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

"alg_moceanu " Web. 20 Nov. 2009. <>.

Diane Pucin. "Meanwhile, back at their ranch . . .; Bela and Martha Karolyi prepare the best in U.S. women's gymnastics for the Olympics at a 2,000-acre facility in Texas. And the system is working. " Los Angeles Times 11 May 2008,Los Angeles Times, ProQuest. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

Karolyi, Bela, and Nancy Ann Richardson. Feel No Fear. New York: Hyperion, 1994. Print.

"YouTube - Karolyi's Camp: Training Future Olympic Gymnasts." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. < v=Zd1gRvkR5AU&feature=player_embedded>.