close up

Joe Di Pietro: Lifting Heavy in Paris (1949)

History in Color:

September 13, 1949, Paris. France– Olympic champion, bantamweight Joe Di Pietro of the US weightlifting team performs a press lift at the Elysee Montmartre in Paris.

After the end of the 1949 World Championships in Scheveningen, Netherlands, American athletes were invited for an exhibition lifting at the Elysee Montmartre in Paris. It was the time legendary John Davis lifted the Apollon Wheels and became the 3rd man in the history who succeeded in this. Only two men in the history were able to conquer the Apollon Axle before – legendary Charles Rigoulot of France and Apollon (Louis Uni) himself.

As for Joe Di Pietro, he amazed the audience with both his size and strength. At the size of 4’7” 120-pound, his arms were too short and the bar was barely clearing his head when they were extended. That didn’t allow him to fully succeed in all lifts.

With all these said, Joe Di Pietro (1914-1999) had a fascinating career in this sport and managed to win gold medals at the Summer Olympics (1948), Pan American Games (1951) and World Championships (1947). He won 9 national titles and set 5 world records.





close up

David Rigert: Training in New Zealand (1975)

History in Color:

Christchurch, New Zealand, January 1975 – Weightlifting legend David Rigert is performing a narrow grip snatch in a training session before competing at the 1975 New Zealand Games.

David Rigert was a super star of the Soviet Olympic weightlifting and the original black-and-white photo by Robert Kabbas depicts Rigert using one of many supporting lifts that were a distinct part of classic Russian training methodology for decades.

David Rigert managed to set a new world record at the tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand.

For over 4 years Rigert competed in the 90kg class. Being out of his top shape in January, he decided to appear in the light heavyweight class at the invitational tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He didn’t disappoint the organizers and set a new world record in his 1st attempt when he snatched 165kg (double bodyweight!) in the 82.5kg class.


close up

Eino Makinen in Tallinn (1957)

History in color:

Tallinn, Estonia, USSR, 1957 – 4x Olympian, European champion Eino Makinen  of Tampere, Finland competes a 170kg clean-and-jerk in the 90+kg weight class in the weightlifting match between Finland and Estonia Tallinn in 1957.

Eino “Eikka” Makinen (1926-2014) represented his native Finland at four Summer Olympics in Helsinki (1952), Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964). He won bronze medals at the Worlds (1955, 1961) and won gold (1955), silver (1954, 1957, 1961) and bronze (1959) medals at the European championships.

He was the first Finnish weightlifter to reach the 400kg total and was the key figure of the Suomi weightlifting in the 1950s.

close up

Norb Schemansky: 1952 Olympic Tryouts

History in Color :

June 28, 1952, NYC, New York – 28-year old mid heavyweight Norbert Schemansky of Detroit, Michigan, USA performs a press lift on his way to the win the 1st place in the 90kg weight class at the 1952 Senior Nationals and Final Olympic Tryouts held at the 69th Regiment Armory Auditorium in New York City.

Note: Another legend of the U.S. weightlifting, Stan Stanczyk is seen behind Norbert Schemansky.

At the Tryouts, Schemansky won the 1st place with a 402.5kg (120 + 127.5 + 155) in total.

A month later, on July 27, 1952, he won the gold at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki with an outstanding total of 445kg (127.5 + 140+ 177.5).

Schemansky set 3 world records that night (140kg in snatch, 177.5kg in cj and 445kg in total) and outlifted his main opponent Grigory Novak (USSR) by 35kg!




close up

Marian Zielinski: 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome

History in Color:

September 8, 1960, Rome, Italy – World champion Marian Zielinski, lightweight of Team Poland, performs a clean-and-jerk opener with 150kg in the 67.5kg weight class at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

A year before the 1960 Olympics,  Marian Zielinski became the first Polish World champion in the history of Olympic weightlifting.

Overall, Marian Zielinski represented Poland at four Summer Olympics – in Helsinki 1956. Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968 and won three bronze Olympic medals.

In Rome, Marian competed at his second Summer Olympics and took the 4th place with 405kg (115+110+150) in total.

Marian Zielinski (1929-2005) was one of the best weightlifters in the world in the 1960s. He was the first World champion from Poland (1959) and a true legend of Polish and world Olympic weightlifting.

Being a 4x Polish Olympian, Zielinski won three bronze Olympic medals (1956, 1964, 1968). He lifted in the feather and light weight classes and won two World titles (1959, 1963) , 3 European titles (1959, 1960, 1963) and set 3 world records (2 in snatch, 1 in cj lift) in his career.

close up

Vasily Alexeev: Big in London (1974)

History in Color:

London, Great Britain, November 1974 – Legendary Soviet super heavyweight Vasily Alexeev is being caught on camera while showing a prospective of power and strength in front of the Tower Bridge during a sightseeing tour of London.

Alexeev arrived to London for the Strongest Man in the World invitational tournament held at Crystal Palace in London on November 27, 1974 . Besides Alexeev, the list of invited competitors included Gerd Bonk, Jurgen Heuser (both East Germany), Petr Pavlasek (Czechoslovakia), Aslanbek Yenaldiev, Yury Zaytsev (both USSR).

In the last lift of the tournament, Vasily Alexeev clean-and-jerked 242.5kg and set a new world record of the time. This record can be seen on the video footage below. It was one of In his 80 world records that Vasily Alexeev set in his remarkable career in Olympic weightlifting.


close up

Rigoulot (1924)

The History in Color cover shows our version of the famous vintage postcard with a black-and-white portrait of Charles Rigoulot when he won the gold medal in the 82.5kg class at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Charles Rigoulot (1903-1962) was perhaps one of the first Olympic weightlifters whose fame went far beyond his titles and results purely in weightlifting competitions. He was an Olympic champion in weightlifting, professional wrestler, racing car driver, strongman, circus performer, actor and, in many ways, a true symbol of France for his achievements in sports and his legendary heroics in World War II.

By all means, Rigoulot was a French celebrity known as the “strongest man in the world” and, perhaps, the most popular weightlifter in the world before the beginning of the World War II.

close up

Nosseir (1928)

The History in Color cover photo is based on the black-and-white portrait of legendary El Sayed Nosseir made in 1928 when he won a gold Olympic medal in Amsterdam. 

El Sayed Nosseir (1905-1977) was an outstanding Egyptian Olympic weightlifter and sports manager. He was one of the first Olympic champions of Egypt overall.

Nosseir won his gold medal in the 82.5kg weight class at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. As an athlete, Nosseir also managed to set 7 world records in his career in Olympic weightlifting.

After finishing his career as a competitive athlete, he was responsible for the rise of a very successful Team Egypt, which was one of the top Olympic weightlifting team in the 1940s and in the 1950s. Here is the ranking Team Egypt in the world in those early decades of the 20th Century:

  • 1930s – No 5

  • 1940s – No 2

  • 1950s – No 4

  • 1960s – No 18

close up

Nikolay Laputin (USSR): 1947 European Championships in Helsinki

History in Color:

October 3, 1947, Helsinki, Finland – Soviet heavyweight Nikolay Laputin performs a snatch lift in the 82.5+kg weight class at the 1947 European Championships in Helsinki.

It was the first European Championships after the WWII and the first Europeans with the Soviet lifters competing at. In 1947, the Soviet team introduced two heavyweights – Yakov Kutsenko and Nikolay Laputin and they won gold and bronze medals respectively.

Nikolay Laputin (1913-1986) was one of the best Soviet heavyweight athletes of the post WW2 decade. At the USSR Championships, he won 5 silver (1945, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951) and 2 bronze (1943, 1953) medals. In his career, he set 2 USSR records.

Laputin competed for the Army Club of Kiev, Ukraine and, at the Ukraine Championships, we won 1 gold (1950), 3 silver (1948, 1949, 1951) and 1 bronze (1941) medals.

After his retirement as an athlete, Nikolay Laputin became a distinguished coach, official and educator. He taught at the State Institute of Physical Education in Kiev and was considered an outstanding speaker always gathering a full house of students at his lectures.