January 11th, 2019

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Two Generations of Heavyweights: Norb Schemansky and Ken Patera (both USA)

Basically, no comments seem to be necessary for this History in Color photo.

Norbert Schemansky, one of the greatest lifters ever, is watching the lifting by Ken Patera at the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

Shemansky was 48 at the time. He won the Olympics and brought home medals from four Olympics in 1948, 1952, 1960 and 1964.

Patera turned 29. He just won silver medal at the 1971 World Championship in Lima, Peru. His strongest lift was Olympic press.

Dynamic lifts were not his forte at all.

In a few months, Patera bombed out at the 1972 Olympics.

He did the 212.5KG press and was the third after the first lift. However, he was eliminated in the snatch after failing to lift 166kg (twice) and 170kg.

At the moment of taking the cover photo, it was still unknown.

It was just the two generations of American heavyweights.

And Norb Schemansky estimating the potential of the new contender.


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Two Generations of Heavyweights: Leonid Zhabotinsky and Vasily Alexeev (both USSR)

History in Color:

2x Olympic champions –  Vasily Alexeev (left) of Shakhty, Russia, USSR and Leonid Zhabotinsky of Zaporozhye, Ukraine, USSR.

Leonid Zhabotinsky (1938-2016) won the Summer Olympics in Tokyo (1964) and Mexico City (1968). He was the strongest man in the world in the 1960s. Zhabotinsky won 4 World, 2 European and 5 USSR titles and set 19 world records.

Vasily Alexeev (1942-2011) became a super heavyweight Olympic champion in Munich (1964) and Montreal (1968). He was the strongest man on the planet in the 1970s. He won 8 World, 8 European and 7 USSR Championships and set 80 world records.

Timeline transition of the strongest man title from Leonid Zhabotinsky to Vasily Alexeev was rather smooth and without hard feelings in the interviews and stories. It definitely couldn’t be compared to the similar transition between Yury Vlasov and Leonid Zhabotinsky in the mid 1960s.

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Team USA in Moscow (1955)

The History in Color cover photo features legendary Team USA Weightlifting visiting Moscow during the historic USA vs. USSR weightlifting match in June 1955 (left to right):

Stan Stanczyk (82.5kg), Clarence Johnson, Joe Pitman (67.5kg), Dave Sheppard (90kg), Tommy Kono (75kg), Paul Anderson (90+kg), Chuck Vinci (56kg), John Terpak (manager), Soviet interpreter.

We already wrote about these matches in 1955.

It was a historic event on many grounds. In fact, it was the first EVER visit of American sports team to Russia and it was a huge event back then. The matches were a part of a good will tour of Team USA Weightlifting to Russia and Middle East in 1955 organized by the AAU and U.S. State department. The matches in Russia were held in Moscow and Leningrad in June 1955. Bob Hoffman of York Barbell brought one of the classiest American weightlifting team to the Soviet Union.

The tournament was held during the Cold War and the U.S. athletes won the hearts of the Soviet public. The Soviet weightlifters and fans looked at the Americans with interest and, on many occasions, with pure admiration.