She was the top female athlete of the year 30 years ago, she has been dead for 21 years

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Budapest, October 5, 1984. Mariann Engrich (left) preparing for the Taekwon-Do Karate European Championships, held on October 20-21, in Budapest. Photo: MTI

In 1987 journalists voted Taekwondoka Mariann Engrich as the top female athlete of the year. She was a legend in her time; today, a memorial tournament honors the memory of the exceptional athlete.

She was a strong, and extremely fast competitor.

In the 1980s, taekwondo wasn't an Olympic sport. Mariann Engrich, who competed in the 52 kg weight category is the only Hungarian adult female taekwondo world champion to date. She was 22 years old when won the title.

Miklós Patakfalvy her coach and teammate remembered the final instruction she gave her before the gold winning fight.

I told her, do not think at all of what is at stake, focus only on the perfect execution of the techniques.

Patakfalvy also competed at the same tournament winning bronze medal in kata.

22-year-old Mariann Engrich made history in Hungarian taekwondo by defeating her Malaysian opponent 4:1 in the final winning the gold medal to become the first Hungarian female taekwondo world champion in sparring.

On November 8, 1996 something unimaginable happened. The media reported that world champion gold medallist Taekwondoka Mariann Engrich had died unexpectedly.

When I heard the news I was shocked to the core said Patakfalvy. I just got home from abroad; I turned on my answering machine - her mother left a brief message on it telling me of the tragedy.

She wore green belt when joined the Hungarian national team in 1983 remembers Patakfalvy. Everybody could see at the first glance that she was a super talented athlete. The following year, Hungary competed the first time at Taekwondo World Championships and Mariann won bronze medal in sparring, which is the real thing in our sport said Patakfalvy who is currently the head of the Hungarian WTF Taekwondo Federation.

From then on, Mariann was unstoppable. She competed both in ITF and WTF divisions; she also competed in kickboxing, nobody could measure up to her in Hungary back then, she was invincible.

Engrich was actively preparing for civilian life as well; she attended university and worked with children; she also worked as a stuntwoman remembered Patakfalvy.

To date, it is unclear what happened to her; what we know for sure is that she fell from an eighth floor window under unclear circumstances. Police thoroughly investigated the case but found no signs of foul play or anything suspicious. Her death is a complete mystery and an irreplaceable loss for our sport said Patakfalvy.

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