Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Hunt for The Whiskey Robber

This story is a couple years in the making ... if you haven't read the book above then do yourself a favour , go out and buy it now ! I read this book about 2 years ago . It's about a guy named Attila Ambrus , he was a pro goalie playing for a club called UTE in Budapest,Hungary . While he was playing for them he was robbing banks :) I don't wanna ruin it for the rest of you so go and buy it now and start reading it ... i read it in 2 days as i couldn't put it down . Personally i have never heard of anyone like this and the story was just so intriguing .

A few months after i read this book i tried to contact him and found out he was in prison so that probably wasn't going to happen . I stayed persistent and obviously put this on my bucket list of things to do .... find him , contact him and meet him ! Next thing you know he was released from prison and i found a profile on Facebook for him but probably wasn't him , regardless nobody ever replied :( My friend Rainer organizes a trip every year to Budapest to play in the Santa Claus Cup there and i have always wanted to play in it so this was my golden chance to hopefully find Attila Ambrus . If you have a dream you gotta chase it and this was someone i really wanted to find and meet and the only way it would ever be possible to happen was to actually go there and look for myself !

Luckily i met Zoltan (Zoli) Sos online and we met up the day i arrived in Budapest and right off the bat i told him about Attila and how i dreamed to meet this guy . Zoli was intrigued and told me he remember him from when he was a child and in fact his former coach was one of Attila's bank robbing buddies ... there are some thing that happened which were strange when all this was going down back in the day ... Zoli told me about how once mysteriously his coach got off a bus on a road trip and just left the team !!!! is this part of the Whiskey Robber story ? i think so :) ! As we sat in this cafe in Budapest Zoli told me about this website which listed all the places Attila had robbed . One of the places was quite close so we finished our drinks and walked over . The shop next to it was opened so we went in and spoke to the old couple that owned the shop ... they didn't speak English so it was a good thing i had Zoli . He asked them if they knew which store was robbed by Attila and they said it was next door with a big smile on their faces they went on to tell us that they were there when it happened and they remember the police blocking off the street and how Attila got lucky because they caught the wrong person because they had received a bad description of him . This guy was pretty lucky but it was really nice to see how excited this couple were when they spoke of that day as they also told me they had never been asked about him since it happened .

As i said it was a huge key having a guy like Zoli along for this adventure to find The Whiskey Robber . I was playing hockey daily as i was goalie for 2 different teams at the tournament and my time was limited . Zoli found a facebook page for Attila's pottery ??? i guess he learned pottery in prison ! I followed it and messaged him through there ... no response :( but kept looking at it constantly to get any tips of where he might be ... Zoli thinks he may have returned to his home country of Romania but that has yet to be discovered .
I felt like i was getting close to crossing something off my bucket list and i was getting more and more excited as the days went on . I was sharing a room with Rainer and one day he tells me lets go for a coffee ??? yeah no joke ! i was confused LOL . We went to the mall to meet his buddy that plays for UTE ... i am not gonna miss the chance to meet some players that played for the same club Attila played for , hopefully i will get some form of a lead through this ? hopefully ! So we met with Karol Csanyi and a couple of his team mates and eventually had beers :) While we sat there chatting i brought up the Whiskey Robber and Miro Durak who was one of the guys there with Karol mentioned that their coach knows EVERYONE associated with UTE from past and present and messaged him asking for Attila's phone number .... as crazy as it seems ! Within seconds i had his phone number ... so do i call him ? does he speak English and how will he react .... i ponder this for some time ....

The next day i get a message from Zoli and he tells me to look on Attila's Facebook page for some great news . Anxiously i did and saw that he was selling pottery in a mall in a town called Kecskemet which is about an hour or so out of Budapest . I figure there is no need to call him , i have found him and i am gonna pay and do whatever i have to do to get there !!!! Zoli has a car and offers me the ride , i offer to pay for gas and then tell my Slovakian team i will miss their game ... they were confused but then figured out it was pretty cool after all :P . There i am on my way to some other city with Zoli and his girlfriend , literally beside myself with anxiety . This is an exciting moment in my life , this guy has one of the most intriguing hockey related stories i have ever heard of ... we finally arrive at the mall and park . I get my gopro on my chest and get into the elevator and get to the shopping area ... i didn't even have to take 5 steps before we spotted him and that is where i lost all control of my English and became a blabbering tourist HAHAHA ! 

Just as it said in his last Facebook post , he had his shop right across from a bank LOL ! Attila actually suggested we get the photo with the bank in the background . I didn't blabber that much but i had a perma smile on me that would last for weeks after . Attila's English wasn't that bad but he was more comfortable speaking in his native tongue with Zoli so he translated for me . We spoke about how we went to the shop he robbed and he laughed and said that they blocked the wrong building and when he left the scene he actually shook the hand of one of the police officers that was chasing him ! He told me he was very lucky escaping gunfire , burning cars and barely avoiding being caught on numerous occasions ! I told him i had his phone number and in fact i did have the right number :) he asked where i got it and i mentioned from the UTE coach and he said they are good friends to this day . Attila asked where i was from and i told him Toronto . He told me he had been here with an oldboys team in the 90's and he liked it here then told me a joke that cracked me up ... he said it was expensive here and he spent all his money and had to eat his team mates food , and even had to rob a bank to make it through his stay LOL ! if he did or not i don't know , but i am pretty sure he was joking ? 

Of course i was at his pottery shop and had to buy something from him as a memento at the least , he had these whiskey flasks with his name and a picture of him with a money bag ! so i bought one for myself and one for Rainer as a present , he signed both of them and that was it ... i still can't believe i found this guy . It was so amazing to meet him , i now kinda wish i had the chance to get on the ice with him and share a bottle of whiskey . Maybe next time ... 

Here is Attila's Facebook page if you are ever interested in buying any of his pottery or just passing by to say hi to this legend ... i think he prefers if you at least buy some pottery from him :) 

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