By finishing third and pulling in $3,750 with partner Brent
Doble at the AVP Shootout last Saturday, the three-time Olympic
gold medalist became the first beach volleyball player to earn
$3 million in career prize money.
SI: You've won a record 143 beach tournaments, but you've been
battling injuries in recent years and you'll turn 42 in November.
How much longer can you go?
Kiraly: Well, Sinjin Smith [second with 139 career victories and
retired last year] showed it's possible to play effectively into
your mid-40s. I look at each year as potentially my last, but if
I have fun and compete well, then I play the next year. That's
happened this summer, so I'm coming back.
SI: Would you advise parents to name their kids Karch?
Kiraly: Probably not. My wife, Janna, and I named ours Kristian
and Kory. I've had a few dogs named after me, though.
SI: How important is a good tan to your game?
Kiraly: It definitely helps protect against sunburn. It's no fun
out there when you're glowing lobster red. It makes it too easy
for your opponents to see you.
SI: Some men wouldn't be comfortable having a hot-pink Speedo hat
as a trademark.
Kiraly: Hey, I'm just fine with it.
SI: Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Walton loved and played volleyball.
Do basketball players make good volleyball players?
Kiraly: I played against Wilt a few times, and he was good if he
didn't have to move. As soon as he had to move around and play
the ball, he wasn't so good. I think the prototypical beach
volleyball build would be somebody not quite so tall but someone
like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
SI: Is it important for you to be known as the greatest
volleyball player of all time?
Kiraly: No. There have been a lot of great players. I was lucky
to play in a period when we had more tournaments every summer
than the guys before me, so I accumulated a lot more victories.
SI: Before he emigrated from Hungary to the U.S., your dad stared
down Soviet tanks, which rolled into Budapest in 1956. You only
have to stare down bikini-clad girls on Huntington Beach.
Kiraly: You could say his job was harder than mine.
SI: Who's the more beloved San Clemente, Calif., icon, Karch
Kiraly or Richard Nixon?
Kiraly: I hope I'm ahead by a hair. --Richard Deitsch
COLOR PHOTO: DANNY MOLOSHOK/GETTY IMAGES (KIRALY) "Dogs are named for me"