Vasily Alexeyev had just turned 28 in January of 1970 when he stepped out of the considerable shadow of Leonid Zhabotinski to relieve him of his world record in the (then) three lift total with a score of 592.5 kg. By that year's end he had become the first man to total 600 kg, the first man to jerk 500 lbs and was the owner of 27 world records. For seven more years Alexeyev repeatedly expanded the limits of man's physical strength and his big-bellied physique became an international symbol for the sport of weightlifting to fans and non-fans alike. For those of you who followed his career as I did, I hope this gallery is filled with fond memories. And for those who didn't, I hope it helps you to recognize his unique presence in the sport.

(click the mini-image to see the picture full sized)

All I know of this picture is that it was taken in 1970 prior to his American debut in Columbus, Ohio. We tend to forget how trim he was in the early days. Given that he stands 6' 1" would you guess he weighed 300 lbs for this meet?
He had already set several world records in his homeland, including becoming the first man to total 600 kg for three lifts. But it was with this 500 lb jerk at the 1970 world championships in Columbus, Ohio that his legend really began to soar.
Alexeyev with Bob Hoffman at the 1970 worlds in Columbus, Ohio. It's difficult to tell who is more honored to be in this picture.
This was taken in Columbus following the presentation to Alexeyev of a nice statue commemorating him as the first man ever to lift 500 lbs. At far right is is his wife Olimpiada.
To warm his muscles up before a training session Vasily "toyed" with this 72 kg (158.75 lb) weight.
"When you train others you learn yourself", reads the caption to this photo. Anyone know who this 'other' is? He looks like he could push a few kilos himself.
Alexeyev weighed in at a solid 320 lbs for the 1971 Spartakaide in Moscow and you can see how the prominent belly that became his most famous feature is beginning to take shape. Far from the result of a slovenly disregard for his appearance, its size and perfectly round shape were strategically cultivated at both the table and the gym. Why? To serve as a counterbalance for the incredibly heavy weights he held overhead. Those who were close to him said that, contrary to its appearance, it was as hard as the rippled abs of any bodybuilder!
This is one of the exercises he performed for that purpose.
The deed is done with this jerk of 235 kg (just over 518 lbs). The seventh record of the night is now in place.
This was taken at the press conference following the Spartakaide. Having just entered seven corrections into the world record books in one night he was clearly the center of attention. I love this picture not only for the spectacular view of his upper body development but also for the obvious 'hero worship' beaming in the faces of the grown men crowded behind him. Alexeyev had this effect on people.
It's difficult for us in the States to imagine a weightlifter could be as celebrated as a football or baseball star, but he was voted the most popular athlete in the Soviet Union for both 1970 and 1971 by their sports press.
Here Alexeyev is performing the now extinct press at the 1971 worlds in Lima, Peru.
Backstage in Lima.
And out on the town.
Vasily had many unusual training techniques. Among them, lifting weights in the river Don. Ivanov writes, "This is what it looked like. Alexeyev dove down. Several seconds later his dark-haired head emerged from the water, then the barbell. From the discs, as from a bucket, flowed the murky yellow water of the Don."

Vasily Alexeyev:
1980 - The Final Bow
The Munich Photo Album
The Video Captures
The McKeon Collection
Odds & Ends

This way to the Serge Reding gallery

This way to the Various Lifters gallery

This way to the Strength Athletes gallery


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