June 3rd, 2019

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Mission Impossible: East Berlin (1966)

History in Color:

October 1966, East Berlin, Germany – Two key personalities of Olympic weightlifting of their countries, Bob Hoffman (USA) and Arkady Vorobyev (USSR) exchange a firm handshake on the streets of East Berlin during the 1966 World  Championships.

Every time I saw the black-and-white original of this photo, I think of some spy movie of the Cold War era. At the time, Arkady Vorobyev was the head coach of the Team USSR weightlifting. Bob Hoffman owned the York Barbell Club, published “Strength and Health” magazine and literally ran and sponsored weightlifting in the USA for decades when American weightlifting team was the best in the world.

Both Hoffman and Vorobyev were very patriotic gentleman on their sides of the Cold War of the time. Hoffman was a WW1 vet and Vorobyev was a WW2 vet.

In weightlifting, they appreciated sharing thoughts between each other and respected the experiences of their sports rivals.

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Jim Halliday (UK)

History in Color:

James “Jim” Halliday (1918-2007) was one of the most memorable weightlifting characters of the post World War 2 decade in Olympic weightlifting. He earned his nickname “Jumping Jim” after developing a crowd entertaining routine of jumping over the bar while celebrating good lifts on the competition platform.

Jim Halliday was a 2x Olympian and represented Great Britain at the Summer Olympics in London (1948) and Helsinki (1952). In 1948, Jim Halliday was a captain of the national weightlifting team and won a bronze medal in the 67.5kg weight class. He also won gold medals at the British Empire Games in Auckland (1950) and in Vancouver (1954).

In addition to his heroics in sports, Jim Halliday was a decorated World War 2 veteran. He enrolled into the Army at the beginning of the war and was a part of the battle of Dunkirk in Europe and war operations in the Far East. He was captured by the Japanese troops and, as a POW, worked for 4 years on the Japanese Death Railway. When he was released from the camp in 1946, his bodyweight was 38 kg.

After the war, Jim Halliday worked for the British Railways and, later in his carer, became a chief safety officer and trained workers how to handle heavy lifting or dig holes.


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Bo Johansson (Sweden): World Records Night in Sundbyberg (1971)

History in Color:

November 14, 1971, Sundbyberg, Sweden – 26-year-old middle heavyweight Bo Johansson of Sweden cleans 210kg (WR) in the 90kg weight class at the 1971 Swedish Championships in Sundbyberg.

It was a special night for Bo Johansson. He just set a new world record in the clean-and-jerk (206.5kg) and asked to load 210kg to challenge his second world record in a night. Mighty Bo cleaned the record but failed to jerk it.

Bo Johansson (b. 1945) was one of the best Swedish weightlifters of the 20th century.

He competed for his country at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City and finished 4th with 492.5kg (165+145+182.5) total.

At the World Championships, Johansson won a silver (1969) and a bronze (1971) medals. He also won 3 silver  and one bronze European medals.

Bo Johansson set 5 world records and proudly represented Sweden in the Club 500 with the 542.5kg total reached in the 90kg class in November 1971.