Alexeev’s One Arm Snatch

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018 by John Wood
To say that many unusual things have happened in Las Vegas is an understatement but it certainly wouldn’t be off base to say that about this little known event in Iron Game history. It was 1977, and made-for-tv sporting “events” were starting to become a thing. Some network executive had an idea for a weightlifting contest which gathered a group of champion weightlifters together for the express purpose of breaking various records and which could be shown on both network and closed-circuit television (ideally for “big bucks”.) The contest, appropriately called “Record Makers” was to take place at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino. The shining star of the group was the great Russian champion Vasily Alexeev who, at the time, had set 82 World Records over the course of his 17 year career.

What happened next was what could only be described as a series of unfortunate events: a few days before, Alexeev contracted a severe case of hives, owing to ether chowing down desiccated liver tablets, or perhaps a some kind of allergic reaction to pineapple which Alexeev had been eating a lot of during his stateside appearance — either way, he developed giant welts all over his body and his hands swelled up so much he could scarcely grip an Olympic barbell..Thankfully the hives resolved themselves, but no sooner had that happened when another stroke of bad luck took place. A tussle with Bruce Wilhelm over a copy of Iron Man Magazine (as the story goes), left Alexeev with a tendon injury in his right hand. But as stipulated by the contract between the USSR and the AAU, Alexeev still had to lift — and lift he did. It was decided that instead of the traditional Olympic movements, Alexeev would instead go for a personal record in the one-arm snatch. With one hand bandaged, Alexeev easily made 198 lbs. on his first attempt, then 220 lbs on his second (shown above). A third attempt with 231 was not to be that day, but overall, Alexeev’s efforts did lead to a colorful write up in Sports Illustrated.

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Author: John Wood

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