K: Emil Koroschenko

Emil Koroschenko

An almost forgotten strongman, he claimed to be the strongest man in the world, made his presence known during a couple of short visits to Britain. His hobbies were said to be bending pennies between his teeth, driving nails into wood with his  fist and then extracting them with his teeth. Makes a change from pottery we suppose.

Elemér Köröskényi was born in Hungary  on 29th March, 1910, but brought up in Czechoslovakie, he was a man with a presence.  Hardly surprising as he weighed 19 stones and had a chest measurement of 54 inches. Emil Koroschenko took up boxing as a youth and performed in circuses as a strongman.

We have documented evidence of Koroschenko wrestling in Britain between 1944 and 1946. During the war he served in the Czech army. After fighting in Egypt and Palestine he was stationed in Glasgow in 1943.

During the 1944 appearances references were made to an earlier visit to Britain in 1935. We have found no record of this visit and it seems highly unlikely as he was still wrestling as an amateur in 1936. We do have an unverified record of a match against Chick Knight in 1939. We found three matches for Koroschenko during a visit in April 1944, wrestling Golden Ace, Anaconda and Chick Knight. Emil returned to Prague in 1944, but his home in Transcarpathia was under Soviet rule and  he moved to the West.  He returned to Britain in January, 1946, this time staying for about eight weeks.

Koroschenko went on to international fame, wrestling in India, Singapore and Australia. In 1953 we found him wrestling Bert Assirati, and Wadi Ayoub and Dara Singh in India. In Singapore he drew huge crowds at the Great World Stadium in matches against the giant Emile “King Kong” Czaja.

Yet it was in Australia that Emil finally settled. They came to Australia in the autumn of 1949 and  opened a restaurant called the Latin Cafe in Sydney. He was a regular main eventer for promoter George Gardiner. Koroschenko  made  his  Australian debut at the Leichardt Stadium, Sydney, on 26th November, 1949 defeating the  American  Leo Jensen by two falls to one.  Australian wrestler John Marshall recalled seeing Koreschenko with a leather strap around his neck, standing fast as  tug of war teams tried to move him without success.

Koroschenko remained a regular worker in New South Wales for over a decade.  Heritage member Graeme Cameron has told us that his last recorded outing for Koroschenko was in January, 1968, a drawn match against Charlie Kontellis for promoter George Gardiner.  In March, 1969, Emil Koroschenko was refereeing for Gardiner and died two months later, on 21st May, 1969. He was 59 years old.
Page added 02/02.2020