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10 Amazing Circus Families


5
The Konyots
Tina Konyot, a member of the famous equestrian Konyot family, competes for the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics in London. Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Tina Konyot, a member of the famous equestrian Konyot family, competes for the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics in London. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Konyot family is famed for its equestrian skills, honed in Europe for more than a century. Their story begins in 1870, when teen Leopold Konyot of Hungary ran away from home and joined a circus. Over time he married a circus performer, started a family and created Circus Leopold. The Konyots quickly became known for their acrobatic and equestrian skills, especially bareback riding. Traveling all over Europe, the family caught the attention of John Ringling in 1907, who lured them to America [source: Cristiani].

The Konyots performed for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for a few years, then returned to Europe, where they created Konyot Bros. Great American Circus & Wild West Show, which became a huge hit. The family began to focus increasingly on the equestrian side of their show when they moved to Spain and Portugal in 1926. But in 1940, with World War II raging across Europe, the family again headed to America, this time for good. The Konyots and their growing number of descendants performed in various circuses across the country, both together and solo. Eventually, they dropped out of the circus business; many family members opened equestrian centers. In 1974, Arthur Konyot, one of Leopold's sons, was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame for his equestrian skills [sources: Cristiani, International Circus Hall of Fame].