György Kárpáti played at outside forward and used his great swimming speed to great effect. In his prime, he was considered the fastest water poloist in the world. When only 17-years-old, he won his first Olympic gold medal in 1952, and this was followed by another gold in 1956, a bronze in 1960, and a third gold in 1964. Kárpáti was a member of the Hungarian water polo team that won the European Championships in 1954, 1956, and 1962. He later coached the Hungarian team to a 1976 Olympic gold and three world titles. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Unlike many members of the 1956 Hungarian Olympic team, he never defected, remaining in Hungary, and working for many years for the Munkacsy Foundation, a cultural institute in Budapest.