Former Soviet weightlifter Vasily Alexeev, who won two Olympic and eight world super-heavyweight titles, set 80 weightlifting world records, and was widely acknowledged to be the strongest man in the world during the late 60's-early 70's, died on Friday, November 25th, 2011 of a heart condition.
Born in the south of Russia in 1942, Alexeev became the first man in history to break the iconic 500-pound barrier in the clean and jerk, which he did in Columbus, Ohio in 1970 at a competition promoted by Jim Lorimer (who now co-promotes the Arnold Sports Weekend there each year). By virtue of that groundbreaking feat, and his dominance of his sport for nearly a decade, the robust Russian's name became synonymous with strength.
His heavy-browed visage was nearly as omnipresent as that of Muhammad Ali during the 1970's, particularly in Sports Illustrated magazine and on ABC's Wide World of Sports, where he was featured in the show's opening montage.
Although Alexeev sported a generous midsection, it was reportedly rock-solid and thought to be the source of his incredible strength. In addition to his genetic gifts, Alexeev was a dedicated trainer, working for hours at a time on each of his three lifts (up until the 1972 Olympics, the press was contested, along with the snatch and the clean and jerk). In addition, he was known for his training innovations, like his pool lifting and combination moves performed fast and for high reps, as a way of developing speed, agility and stamina.
The world of strength training has been indelibly and immeasurably impacted by the great Vasily Alexeev, and Muscle & Fitness would like to extend its heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and fans.