László Péteri has been living in the world of wrestling since 50 years now, and he has had a career which anyone would be proud of. He was given the Gold Whistle Award, and he was the referee at the 2008 finals in Beijing. The talented professional decided to hand over the whistle to the younger ones at the World Championships in Budapest.
‘I got involved with wrestling in 1968. My physical education teacher saw in me, and in my twin brother, that waggish character and sturdiness that are key factors in wrestling. The teacher said: Let’s go to the training and see if you are still the bad guys here. Well, we were not, as they beat everything out of us. I declared that I will never return. But life came and decided our future. We left our training equipment there so we had to go back for it. The trainer was very happy that we arrived earlier to the training and he started to work with us. From there, there was no way to stop, fortunately. I loved it so much that I would restart doing it whenever again.’
‘One of the most vivid memory is when I achieved my first medal, additionally it was my first ever competition. Since that moment, me and my brother were rivals. We competed who can collect the most medals. I won the national championships 11 times, in different age categories. I have achieved the fifth place both at the European and World Championships. These are not really some great results, but for me, they mean a lot. In 1980 I finished my professional wrestling career because of a knee injury. After that I became a trainer. For me, it was decisive that if I can become a trainer, then I must become a referee too. I think this is indispensable for a trainer in order to give the right orders to the athletes!’
‘In 1985 I got my permission to become a referee. My first big challenge was the Budapest-Sofia-Warsaw match series, where those young referees were invited who were worthy of support. This had such a great impact on me, that I decided: I will continue this journey. The biggest success of my career as a referee was the Gold Whistle Award which was given to me in 2014. This award honours the best referee of the year. Only four Hungarians have deserved to be given this award so far, and it is a great honour for me to be among them. But I also have to mention the final match of the Olympic Games in Beijing.’
‘I’ve been in this sport for 50 years, and I’ve been an international referee for 23 years. I have participated in 2 Olympic games, 21 World Championships, 36 European Championships, 21 World Cups. I think, I’ve done my job and I will give the baton to the younger generations. I’m very happy to end this long and beautiful career with a domestic World Championship.’
‘If I look back at this 50 years, I have spent in sports as a competitor, coach or referee, it added so much to my life that would be irreplaceable. I’m sure that if I close my eyes on my deathbed and watch the movie of my life it will be full of wrestling scenes…’