October 7th, 2019

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Mladen Kuchev: Olympics in 1972

History in Color:

August 30, 1972, Munich, Germany – Lightweight Mladen Kuchev of Team Bulgaria competes in the snatch lifting in the 67.5kg weight class at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

At the end of the day, Kuchev won a silver Olympic medal for Bulgaria with a world record in press (157.5kg). After the elimination Olympic press was eliminated from weightlifting competitions after the Olympics in Munich and Kuchev’s record became an “eternal” world record in the 67.5kg class.

Mladen Kuchev (b. 1947) was the member of the first national team assembled by Ivan Abadzhiev when he was appointed to run national weightlifting Team Bulgaria. He was a 2x Olympian. Besides a silver medal in the 67.5kg class in Munich (1972), he took the 9th place in the 60kg class in Mexico City (1968).

Mladen won 4 silver (1969, 1970, 1972, 1973) and 1 bronze (1975) medal at the World Championships. He was a 3x European champion (1969, 1970, 1972) and won 8 national titles in Bulgaria. Kuchev’s forte lift was his press. He set 10 world records in his career. 9 of them were in the press lift.

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Weightlifting Classics: 1956 Olympic Medalists in the 75kg Class

History in Color:

November 24, 1956, Melbourne, 1956 – Olympic medal winners in the 75kg class at the 1956 Summer Olympics are showing their medals earned in Melbourne (left to right):

Peter George (USA, silver medal, 412.5kg), Fedor Bogdanovsky (USSR, gold medal, 420kg), Ermanno Pignatti (Italy, bronze medal, 382.5kg)

All three athletes are true classics and legends of Olympic weightlifting. The main battle in the middleweight for the gold medals in Melbourne was between Peter George of the United States and Fedor Bogdanovsky of the Soviet Union.

It was the 3rd Olympics for Peter George. He already won a silver medal in London in 1948 and became an Olympic champion with a gold medal in Helsinki in 1952. The 1956 Olympics in Melbourne was the last top international tournament that he competed in. In 1957, he announced about his retirement from official lifting competitions. Peter was listed as a U.S. contender in the middleweight at the 1957 World Championships in Teheran but he wasn’t able to compete because of an Asian flu attack.

Peter George was a terrific competitor and a brilliant technician. In fact, at the time, he was one of the pioneers of squat style techniques on elite level in Olympic weightlifting. For those who are interested in the story, I would highly recommend the “Secrets of the Squat Style” book by Peter George. It is now available in its Vintage Edition and it’s definitely a great read for Olympic weightlifting experts and collectors.

Fedor Bogdanovsky was an outstanding weightlifter. In his career, he won 4 European titles but couldn’t capture the World titles and seemed to develop a psychological complex in competing against legendary American weightlifters – Tommy Kono and Peter George. Prior to the 1956 Olympics, Bogdanovski lost to Peter George at the World Championships in Vienna (1954) and in Munich (1955). Finally, he “broke a spell” in Melbourne with a world record of 420kg in total.

Ermanno Pignatti of Italy won a tough battle for the 3rd  place against Jan Bochenek, Krzysztof Beck, both of Poland, and Sung-Jip Kim of South Korea. In the end, Pignatti and Bochenek had a 382.5kg total and Italian athlete won a bronze because of a lighter bodyweight.