Vasili Alexeyev Weightlifting Photos

For those who may not remember him, Vasili Alexeyev is the great Russian Olympic Lifter who reigned in the super heavyweight class from the late 1960's till the late 1970's. He was an inspiration to me and I loved to watch him lift on television. I was able to see him lift in person at the 1978 World Olympic Championships in Gettysburg PA. This was sadly his last great performance. The photos below have generally been organized chronologically.

The best photo I've been able to find of Alexeyev is also the earliest. A book titled, SPORTS with photographs by Neil Leifer, text by George Plimpton, and a forward by Red Smith is a collection of full page and two page sport photos. A two page color spread (photograph number 22) is titled, "Vasili Alexeev, world record lift, European Championships, Szombathely, Hungary, June, 1970." To minimize my infringement on Mr. Leifer's photo, I scanned the small black and white photo in the back of the book used to describe the photography details of each shot. In his notes he says, "While working , I was standing in a well at about floor level just in front of where the weight lifter was, and about two lifts before I took this picture, one of the lifters dropped the weights. They rolled - and kept coming and coming. I barely got out in time or I would have been crushed. As I rather dazedly began shooting again, I caught this world record lift." I encourage those interested to find a copy of the book and see this great action photo. You can see his attempts on the score board behind him. I am uncertain if this lift is the 217 kg jerk or a 3rd attempt.

  • *** Image Removed at Request of Copyright Holder (6 Nov 1999) **** European Championships World Record 1970

    There is a nice shot of Alexeyev in the book, Inside Weight Lifting and Weight Training, by Jim Murray (page 5). The book was published in 1977 and the photo is undated.The caption says he weighs 345 pounds and is jerking 541 pounds.

  • Nice Jerk Photo

    The next photo is from a yellowed newspaper that was on my wall for several years. It is an AP news clip of his performance at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

    MONTREAL (AP) - Vasily Alexeyev doesn't look like Mr. Universe with rippling muscles, a flat stomach and Robert Redford features, but the 344-pound Russian bear is still the world's strongest man.
    The massive Alexeyev, who has a 48-inch waist and 21 -inch biceps, snatched an Olympic record 407 pounds of barbells into the air then followed that with his world record 561 pound clean and jerk for a total of 968 pounds.
    "My strongest competition was with he weight," said Alexeev, who stared pensively at the ceiling for long periods of time before attacking the barbells at St. Michel Arena.
    He said, "I am pleased to be the strongest man in the world for my two children, my two boys."
    Alexeyev smiled and added a domestic note, "I think my wife will pay more attention to me now."

    The photo is presented below as a gif with some color in it and as a jpg grayscale.

  • Montreal 1976 Olympics - 561 Jerk

  • Montreal 1976 Olympics - 561 Jerk

    In 1978 the European World Championships were held in Havirov, Czech. A nice photo of Alexeyev in the snatch is on page 5 of "International Olympic Lifter". Vol.5 Numbers 1,2,3. He won the meet with a 180.0 kg snatch and a 235.0 kg jerk for a total of 415.0 kg.

  • European World Championships 1978

    The rest of the photos are surrounding the 1978 World Olympic Championships in Gettysburg. There are a few other items about this meet scattered around our website. They include a meet ticket, the meet program cover, and a nice photo of the super-heavies on the stand for their introductions.

    The Russians, with the exception of Alexeyev, came to York PA to train at the York Barbell facility on the 26 of September and stayed until the October 1st. This training period is discussed in the Iron Grapevine section of the Jan 1979 issue of Strength & Health (S&H) magazine (pages 54-63). The meet itself is described on pages 10-22 and additional photos and coverage are throughout the issue.

    Alexeyev injured his thigh on his first clean and jerk attempt. This photo (from S&H page 37) shows him shortly afterwards.

  • Thigh Injury at 78 Worlds

    S&H also had a nice photo (page 55) of the Russian contingent preparing to board a bus for the long trip home. Alexeyev is in the white shirt and shorts in the middle of the photo. The huge person in the behind Alexeyev is Leonoid Zhabotinsky. We have a discussion about his size on our site near the stand photo (link at top of coverage of this meet).

  • Russian Contingent Bus Photo

    In March of 1999, I found this "sports card" of him for sale on Ebay.

  • Sport Card

    I thought I had a biography on Alexeyev somewhere but I have been unable to find it. I do recall that he was trained as a mining engineer. For those wishing to do some further research on Alexeev, here are some additional references:

    In March of 1999 we became of the Vasily Alexeyev Gallery, an incredible repository of great Alexeyev photos and strongly encourage you to visit it. The author attributes most of the photos to the "Strongest Man in the World" book described below and to Strength & Health magazine.

  • Strongest Man in the World: Vasili Alexeyev. by D, Ivanov, A. Kagan, and A. Esterhazy. Published by Spinx Press in New York 1979. 288 page book translated from Russian. I have not seen this book, but a viewer of our web site sent us a nice scan of the cover.

  • Book Cover

  • "Bar in the Hands of the Big Russian". Published in Sport in the USSR 7 in 1978. Pages 16-17.

  • "Jerk Technique of Vasily Alexeev's 124.5 - kg World Record". Published in Yessis Review Vol.12 No.1. March 1977. Pages 11-14.

  • Michael Yessis, whom I have met a few times, has published several journals on Soviet Sports. They include: Yessis Review of Soviet Physical Education and Sport, Yessis Review, and Soviet Sports Review. If you can find some copies of these journals from the 1970's you will find some coverage of Alexeev.

  • You might try an online search in SPORT an extensive sports database in Canada available on Compuserve. Note several spellings of his name (Alexeev, Alexeyev, Vasili, Vasily).

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