January 15th, 2020

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Rafael Chimishkyan (USSR, Georgia): Vienna, 1954


History in Color:

October 8, 1954, Vienna, Austria – Olympic champion Rafael Chimishkyan of Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR wins both World and European titles in the 60kg weight class at the 1954 World and European Championships in Vienna.


Rafael Chimishkyan (b. 1929) competed in the featherweight class for Tbilisi, Georgia.


Chimiskyan was the second Soviet Olympic champion in weightlifting and the first Georgian champion of the Summer Olympics. It all happened on July 25, 1952 at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. 23-year old Chimishkyan lifted the new world record in total 337.5kg and won a gold medal in the 60kg class. Needless to say, Chimishlyan victory was rather a surprise. He was considered a back-up to a more solid and experienced Nilolay Saxonov on the Team USSR Weightlifting but Chimishkyan was truly brilliant in Helsinki.


In his career, Chimishkyan had 2 golds and 2 silvers at the World championships, 5 golds and 1 silver medals at the European championships, 5 golds, 5 silvers and 3 bronzes at the USSR Championships.


In his career, Rafael Chimishkyan set 10 world records. At the 1954 World Championships in Vienna shown on the cover photo, Chimishkyan marked his gold medals with 2 world records – 143kg in clean and jerk and 350kg in total.

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Fasten Your Seatbelts: From America To Russia (1955)5


History in Color :

June 1955 –American Olympic weightlifting team is about to take off on a plane to Russia for the USA vs. USSR Olympic weightlifting meet to be held in Moscow and Leningrad.


Paul Anderson of Toccoa, GA is lined up to compete for the USA in the 90+kg class. He is also known as the Miracle of Nature and is seen the front view on the cover photo. All accommodations have been made for the strongest man in the world. The giant is placed comfortably on four seats.


American bantamweight Charles “Chuck” Vinci is on the next row and legendary Tommy Kono is on the row behind him.


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.