The cover photo from our History in Color Series features the snatch lift by 2x Olympic Champion Charles Vinci of Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Charles Vinci (b. 1933) was one of the greatest bantamweight athletes ever. His gold medal in Rome in 1960 was the last gold medal that the United State won at the Olympics in weightlifting.
On the national US team, Vinci represented the once greatest York Barbell Club founded by legendary Bob Hoffman, “the father of American weightlifting”. In addition to the national titles in 1954-1956 and in 1958-1961, Charles Vinci brought his country two gold Olympic medals in Melbourne, 1956 and Rome, 1960.
Needless to say, the 4-foot 10-inch Vinci was famous as a clutch winner of weightlifting battles.
At the 1956 Olympics, he was facing the bantamweight world champion Vasily Stogov from Russia. Stogov was famous for his phenomenal physical strength and held the world record in total of that time. Both Stogov and Vinci pressed and snatched 105 kg and the winner had to be determined in the last lift, the clean and jerk lift. Vinci managed to lift 132.5 kg and to beat Stogov by 5 kilograms in the “war of muscles and nerves” that night. In 1960, Vinci won the gold medal competing against the rising star of Japanese and world weightlifting, Yoshinobu Miyake.
Like a true legend of sports, Vinci has his name surrounded with stories. One of the most popular one is about his weigh-in for the Olympics in Melbourne. Before the competition, Vinci was 1.5 pound overweight. After and hour of extensive running and sweating, Vinci was still seven ounces over the limit with 15 minutes to go. In the last moment, Vinci decided to go for a severe hair-cut that did the trick and, eventually, let him win his first gold medal at the Olympics.