Ilona Elek

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ilona Elek
Elek Ilona portré.JPG
Personal information
Birth nameIlona Schacherer
Full nameIlona Elek-Schacherer
Born(1907-05-17)17 May 1907
Budapest, Hungary
Died24 July 1988(1988-07-24) (aged 81)
Budapest, Hungary

Ilona Elek, known also as Ilona Elek-Schacherer (née "Schacherer"; May 17, 1907 – July 24, 1988) was a Hungarian Olympic fencer.[1] Elek won more international fencing titles than any other woman.[2]

Early and personal life[edit]

Elek was born on 17 May 1907 in Budapest, Hungary, and was of half-Jewish origin[3].[4][5][1][6][7][8] She had seven siblings, including two-time Olympic fencer Margit Elek, and her mother died when she was 11 years old.[9][10] She graduated from a music school.[11] For six years after Hungary entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany, even before most of them were sent to concentration camps Hungarian Jews were forbidden from entering fencing competitions, and so Elek and her sister, who was also a half-jew, were unable to compete.[12]

Fencing career[edit]

Margit Danÿ, Ilona Elek, Erna Bogen-Bogáti, and Margit Elek in 1933.

Elek competed for Hungary in three Olympiads, winning three medals. She is considered to be one of the greatest female fencers in the history of the sport.[13]

Hungarian National Championships[edit]

Elek won the Hungarian foil championship in 1946–47, 1949–50, and 1952.

World Championships[edit]

Elek won the gold medal in women's foil at the World Championships in 1934, 1935, and 1951.[11][14] She won silver in 1937 and 1954, and bronze in 1955.[15]


Elek was the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals in the individual foil competition.[2]

Elek's first Olympic competition was at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, at the age of 29.[5][9] She won the gold medal in the foil event, the first Hungarian woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics. In the process, Elek, who was Jewish,[16] defeated a German with a Jewish father, Helene Mayer.[15] The bronze medal went to Ellen Preis, an Austrian Jew.[11]

The Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944. When the Games resumed after World War II, at age 41 she repeated her performance as Olympic champion by winning a gold medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England.[15][9] It marked the fifth Olympics in a row where a Jewish woman had won the gold medal in foil. Ellen Preis again won the bronze medal.[17]

Elek won the silver medal at the 1952 Helsinki Games.[11][9] After winning her first five matches in the final pool, she was in contention for the gold medal, but she lost to American Maxine Mitchell, and Italian Irene Camber, who won the gold.[15]


She was later awarded the Robert Feyerick Cup and the Olympic Order.[11]

International Fencing Federation[edit]

In 1983, she was the International Fencing Federation honorary President.[18]

Later years and death[edit]

Elek later was a director of a trade company.[11] She died in Budapest at the age of 81.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ilona Elek Olympic Results". Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b Ilona Elek on Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. ^
  4. ^ Foiled: Hitler's Jewish Olympian: the Helene Mayer Story - Milly Mogulof
  5. ^ a b Memories After My Death: The Story of My Father, Joseph "Tommy" Lapid - Yair Lapid
  6. ^ The Forgotten Legacy of Stella Walsh: The Greatest Female Athlete of Her Time - Sheldon Anderson
  7. ^ The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era - Jessica Amanda Salmonson
  8. ^ Nazis, Women and Molecular Biologie: Memoirs of a Lucky Self-hater - Gunther Siegmund Stent
  9. ^ a b c d e Ilona Elek-Schacherer Bio, Stats, and Results | Olympics at
  10. ^ Changing Lives: Women in European History Since 1700 - Bonnie G. Smith
  11. ^ a b c d e f Век фехтования - Валерий Штейнбах
  12. ^ Jews and the Olympic Games: the clash between sport and politics: with a ... - Paul Taylor
  13. ^ Peter S. Horvitz (2007). The Big Book of Jewish Sports Heroes: An Illustrated Compendium of Sports History and The 150 Greatest Jewish Sports Stars. SP Books. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  14. ^ For the record: women in sports - Robert Markel, Nancy Brooks, Susan Markel
  15. ^ a b c d "Scharerer-Elek, Ilona". Jews in Sports. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  16. ^ Paul Taylor. Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  17. ^ Jewish Athletes at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archived February 5, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Sport and the Emancipation of European Women: The Struggle for Self-fulfilment

External links[edit]