Abstract

In December 1956, Hungarian track coach Mihály Iglói and the third man to run a sub-four-minute mile, László Tábori, defected to America with the help of Sports Illustrated magazine and the U.S. government. This article explores the experiences of the two men after their arrival in America and the factors that contributed to their trials and triumphs. The men owed their struggles to the differences in the sport culture in the U.S. and socialist Hungary, as well as to AAmerica’s Cold War politics of refugee resettlement at the time. I argue that by maximizing their cultural capital and persevering through the cultural gaps and prejudices against them, Iglói and Tábori managed to help shape the California running community. Their experiences also illustrate America’s ambivalence toward refugees—even toward privileged athlete-defectors—during the Cold War.

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