September 16th, 2019

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35 Years Ago In Varna, Bulgaria: Norair Nurikuan and Anton Kodzhabashev

History in Color

September 13, 1984, Varna, Bulgaria – 2x Olympic champion Norair Nurikyan assists 25-year old Anton Kodzhabashev of Team Bulgaria in the 60kg weight class at the 1984 Friendship Cup in Varna.

World records holder, 3x World champion and 3x European champion, Anton Kodzhabashev was an outstanding athlete but his romancing with the Olympics wasn’t successful. He missed the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because of a severe elbow injury. He also had to miss the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles because of the boycott of the Olympics by the Eastern bloc countries in 1984.

Instead of going to LA, Bulgaria, Soviet Union and most of the Eastern block athletes competed at the 1984 Friendship Cup in Varna. Anton Kodzhabashev competed in the featherweight class and won the 3rd place with a 295kg total. His teammate Stefan Topurov took the first place (322.5 kg total and 5 world records overall) and Yurik Sarkisyan of Armenia, USSR was on the second place (315kg).


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Norair Nurikyan: Numero Uno For Bulgaria

History in Color:

August 29, 1972, Munich, Germany – 24-year old featherweight Norair Nurikyan of Team Bulgaria clean-and-jerks 157.5kg in the 60kg weight class at the 1972 Summer Olympics and becomes the first ever weightlifter to win Olympic gold medal for Bulgaria.

Norair Nurikyan (b. 1948) was a brilliant Bulgarian weightlifter. He competed in the bantamweight and featherweight classes and brought his country two gold medals from two Summer Olympics that he represented Bulgaria at. He won the 60kg class in Munich (1972) and 56kg class in Montreal (1976).

In many ways, the approach and methodology of Ivan Abadzhiev is being reflected on the phenomenon of Nurikyan. Norair was brought to this sport as an athlete and then as a coach by Abadzhiev himself. Nurikian became the first Olympic champion in weightlifting for Bulgaria when he won a gold medal in the featherweight in 1972.

Besides two World and Olympic titles, Norair Nutikyan won European (1976) and Bulgarian Championships (1971, 1972, 1975) and set 5 world records in his career.