Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms

Emilia Eberle as a young competitor. Eberles given name is Gertrud, which reflects her Hungarian roots. The Romanian Federation decided she would compete under her middle name, Emilia.

Emilia Eberle as a young competitor. Eberle's given name is Gertrud, which reflects her Hungarian roots. The Romanian Federation decided she would compete under her middle name, Emilia.


Oh, dear.

In an interview with a local news affiliate, 1970s Romanian national team member Emilia Eberle says that Bela and Martha Karolyi physically abused their gymnasts, describing hitting, cutting, scratching and an overall feeling of terror that permeated the Deva gym.

“In one word, I can say it was brutal,” she said.

Kollar said mistakes in training or competition brought physical pain — frequent beatings from Bela Karolyi.

“Nobody’s perfect, so obviously we did mistakes. And we, you know, just got smacked everywhere from Bela — on all our body parts. You know, he has huge hands and it hurts,” Kollar said. “I had blood coming out of my body. I had my ears — my skin ripped behind my ears. I had pus behind my ears, but, you know, nobody seemed to care.”

While awful, this is not exactly new information. Over the years, several Karolyi gymnasts have periodically accused the exuberant Romanian of abuse. What is new, however, is the source who confirms it: Geza Pozar, the choreographer who defected with the Karolyis in 1981 and continued to work with them. Eberle, who changed her name to Trudi Kollar, has worked in Pozar’s gym in Sacramento for the past 15 years, according to the article.

Pozar said Kollar’s story is absolutely true.

“I saw all the activities that went on. Of course I saw the beating and the abuse, you know, as Trudi told you,” Pozar said.

Pozar said Bela Karolyi was large and powerful, and that Kollar was a frequent target.

“Trudi was the most abused, I mean physically. And when he hit her on the back, you can see that big hand, you know, landing on her back. That is something you would never forget,” Pozar said.

Kollar, who is known primarily for having one of the ugliest floor routines ever choreographed (likely by Pozar, who was team choreographer; horrendous as it was, it tied for third with American Kathy Johnson’s stunning classical routine at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France) refused to discuss her training days in an earlier interview this summer.

Emilia Eberle, 1977 U.S. vs. Romania, Floor Exercise:

What bothers me about this story is that abuse like Eberle describes was probably not limited to Romanian gymnastics. Look at the ever-successful Soviets of the 80s, or the Chinese of today. How many of them are or were subjected to the same treatment?

Speaking of messed up, stuff is happening in Brazil that’s getting much-needed attention on Triple Full and at Gymnastics Coaching. Banned drugs, no less. Maybe that explains why Jade Barbosa looked so out of it in Beijing.

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12 Responses to “Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms”

  1. itsallaboutme Says:

    i call BS on this, some of it is just not believable, no offense to the postmaster of the blog though, thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Geza Pozar confirms Karolyi abuse | Gymnastics Coaching Says:

    [...] Gymblog broke a very important story to the [...]

  3. Katrina Says:

    um, the video is unavailable

    It’s not limited to gymnastics. There is abuse scandals in figure skating as well.

  4. Kate Says:

    Wow, that routine was so incredibly terrible I was laughing.

  5. vanessa Says:

    That is disgusting.
    If there is truth to that–sounds like there is–the Karolyis should not be in charge.

  6. USAG: No complaints about Karolyis « The Gymblog Says:

    [...] The Gymblog News and analysis of men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics « Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms [...]

  7. Bela Karolyi announces Romanian Senate run « The Gymblog Says:

    [...] Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms USAG: No complaints about the Karolyis Nadia the [...]

  8. Kara Says:

    Karolys should not be in charge of children. Romania may have its traditions, but in this country one would hope a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong will overcome fame…They’re only famous in the first place because of riding on the coattails of these girls.

  9. TCO Says:

    she was impudent.

  10. Stellan Bjorck Says:

    I haven’t seen this article about Emilia ” Trudi” until now.

    When I at school in Sweden in 1979 heard from a classmate(former Swedish elite gymnast) that Emilia got beaten up in a locker room after falling off the bars in an exhibition before the European Championships in Copenhagen , I couldn’t belive what I heard.

    Bela was bragging in the Swedish newspapers about his good team..which it actually was..unbelievable gymnasts and gymnastics like Anca Kiss , Rodica Dunca , Melita Ruhn and of course Nadia Comaneci .
    They performed skills never been seen before BUT I never belived they all got beaten up to perform these incredible skills. Falling off meant a physical punishment …

    I read about that the whole team wanted to run away but Securitate took them back after treaths to hurt their families ..HOW LOW CAN YOU GO ?

    We all know that these things happened ,even the Dutch team telling us now about things thay’ve seen according to the time Belu and Bitang were in charge!

    Now to my point ..you can’t change the past but the future. How on earth can you in US still have Marta as a team leader..it’s time for her to pay the price and let good leaders take over. Many gymnasts is telling us that she actually was the worst of the two!!

  11. Michael Says:

    I remember when I was at an American cup competition there was cup in the bathroom hidden in the tank ( the toilet never quite flushed right) and it was because we were told to leave it there so the Rumanian girls could drink some water since they were being starved by the coaches. We also hit candy and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the paper towel dispensers, and taped under the sink, I remember we always took a bunch of sandwiches and would hide them, the Rumanians always found them!

  12. Chelle and Bela « Elite Gymnastics Stars Says:

    [...] on Gymblog, here, an interview with Kollar (Eberle) is posted and says [...]

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