He became an exam­ple for many young ath­letes and set world records using a sci­en­tif­ic approach.

Yuri Vlasov was born in 1935 in the city of Makeev­ka in the Don­bass. His child­hood was dur­ing the war years: the father of the future cham­pi­on served as a scout, and his moth­er was in charge of the library. From con­stant hunger, Yuri’s hair began to fall out even then.

First successes in sports

Vlasov grad­u­at­ed from the Sara­tov Suvorov School, and then from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engi­neer­ing Acad­e­my, receiv­ing a spe­cial­ty in avi­a­tion radio com­mu­ni­ca­tions engi­neer. He con­tin­ued the mil­i­tary line through his father, and from his moth­er he inher­it­ed a love of lit­er­a­ture.

Despite a dif­fi­cult child­hood, by the age of 15 Vlasov weighed about 90 kg, hav­ing a min­i­mal per­cent­age of fat. In 1953, he grad­u­at­ed with hon­ors from the Suvorov School — already there he was active­ly involved in sports.

In 1957, Vlasov set the first USSR records (snatch — 144 kg, clean and jerk — 183 kg). Two years lat­er, Vlasov became the USSR heavy­weight cham­pi­on and won the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

Meeting with Schwarzenegger in Moscow

In 1988, Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger, who was a long­time fan of Vlasov, came to Moscow for film­ing. He admit­ted that he took up body­build­ing when he saw Vlasov per­form in Aus­tria.

Schwarzeneg­ger set a con­di­tion for the film­ing orga­niz­ers: he would not leave Moscow unless he saw Vlasov in per­son. They met and took the leg­endary pho­to:

“Dur­ing one of the trips, I met Yuri Vlasov again. It was in Moscow on the set of “Red Heat,” the first Amer­i­can film to receive per­mis­sion to film on Red Square. Then we spent the whole day with him. He was so sen­si­tive, kind, smart and, of course, very gen­er­ous. He gave me a beau­ti­ful blue mug. And since then I drink cof­fee from it every morn­ing,” Schwarzeneg­ger recalled.

Vlasov is one of the most titled weightlifters in his­to­ry, who took a math­e­mat­i­cal approach to build­ing the body. In 1962, he col­lect­ed all imag­in­able records: in the bench press — 186 kilo­grams, in the snatch — 163, in the clean and jerk — 210.5 and the triathlon total — 550.

In the year of his sev­en­ti­eth birth­day, Vlasov set a record: lying on his back, he was able to squeeze 185 kg with a per­son­al weight of 110 kg. Train­ing four times a week, the vet­er­an was in excel­lent phys­i­cal shape.

In 1989–1991, Vlasov was a peo­ple’s deputy of the USSR, and in 1993–1995, a deputy of the State Duma. In 1996, he nom­i­nat­ed him­self for the post of Pres­i­dent of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, gain­ing 0.2%.

In Feb­ru­ary 2021, Vlasov died — he was 85 years old. Schwarzeneg­ger ded­i­cat­ed his last touch­ing mes­sage to his idol:

“Yuri Vlasov taught us all that “impos­si­ble” is just a word… When I was lucky enough to real­ly get to know him lat­er, I was shocked. This man was not just a great ath­lete — he was a great thinker. He talked about poet­ry and pol­i­tics, he read more books than he car­ried weights. He told me that the strength of the body is noth­ing com­pared to the strength of the mind. He was one of the strongest men in the world and believed that true pow­er comes from words.”