As the creator of the Sport Goofy Trophy, Horst Koblischek took Disney’s name from the tennis courts of Europe to the former Soviet Union. Beginning in 1981, and inspired by a similar program called “Trophy Topolino” in Italy, Horst developed the junior tennis tournament for German children under 14.
The tournament quickly spread throughout Europe and the world with open championships held in Monte Carlo in 1982 as well as Moscow in 1990. Such future champs as Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, and Michael Chang made their debuts on the Sport Goofy tennis courts.
Bo Boyd, then president of Disney Consumer Products, recalled, “Horst was the father of Sport Goofy. His concept was impressive and incredibly successful.”
Born July 8, 1926, in Reichenberg, Czechoslovakia, Horst was the son of a shoe retailer and a homemaker. In 1943, he entered officer training school for the German Army but, by the time he graduated, World War II had ended and he was placed in a POW camp in Heilborn. Work was scarce in Germany when he was released, but in 1950 Horst won a job at a small Berlin advertising agency.
Eight years later, he moved to Frankfurt to join Disney’s newly established German office as director of sales. He was promoted to managing director in 1961.
By the mid 1960s, Horst had introduced the Disney Comic Pocket Book to children. The pocket-sized books continue to be the most successful Disney publishing concept in Germany today. He also founded the Company’s German record business in 1965, featuring read-alongs and recordings for children based on such Disney films as Mary Poppins.
In 1973, he inaugurated Disney’s Super 8-mm film business in Germany, which grew into the lucrative home video market. In 1975, he negotiated Disney’s first television contract in Germany, featuring one Mickey Mouse cartoon per week.
In 1988, as a part of Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday celebration, Horst helped organize the first Disney Film Festival in the Soviet Union. The three-city tour, which took place in Moscow, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and Estonia, featured special guest appearances by Roy E. Disney, then vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company, and Mickey Mouse. Audiences who had not seen a Disney animated film on the big screen since before the war readily embraced such motion pictures as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and Fantasia. As the cold war ended in 1992, Horst re-introduced Disney characters to other Eastern European countries including Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic via books and publications.
After 35 years with Disney, Horst Koblischek retired in 1990. He served as a consultant until 1993, negotiating a contract to publish the first Mickey Mouse magazine in China.
Horst Koblischek passed away November 11, 2002.