Olympic Medals
Games Participations2
First Olympic GamesRome 1960
Year of Birth1935


Yury Vlasov succeeded American Paul Anderson as the claimant to the title of “The World's Strongest Man.” In the process he started the long line of Soviet champions in super-heavyweight. Vlasov was born to the family of military journalist and Comintern agent in China Pyotr Vlasov, who later became the Soviet general consul in Shanghai and Burma. Vlasov took up weightlifting in 1956 while studying at the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy in Moscow and was noticed by Soviet sports officials in 1958, when he won his first medal, a bronze, at the Soviet championships. Vlasov first achieved international prominence in 1959 when he won both the European and World Championships. Between 1959 and 1963 Vlasov was unbeatable and won every competition he entered. He won three more World titles (1961-63) and five more European titles (1960-64). In 1960 Vlasov easily won the gold medal at the Rome Olympics. At the 1964 Olympics he was heavily favored to repeat the victory but was upset by fellow Soviet, Leonid Zhabotynskiy, after which he decided to retire from sports. Domestically Vlasov also won everything there was to win, winning the Soviet title in 1959-63. Vlasov set 34 world records in the super-heavyweight class: seven in the press, seven in the snatch, nine in the clean & jerk, and eleven in the total and was the first person to clean & jerk over 200 kg (440 lbs.).

After his retirement from weightlifting Vlasov turned to his first love, writing, and became a renowned novelist and short story writer. Beginning in 1959 his short stories were published in various Soviet newspapers. In 1961 Vlasov won second prize at the best sports story competition organized by the Soviet Writer’s Union. At the 1962 European Championships and the following international competitions Vlasov went not only as an athlete, but also as a special correspondent to the Soviet newspaper Izvestia. Vlasov’s first book, a short story collection entitled Overcoming Yourself, was published shortly before the 1964 Olympics. Since 1968, after retiring from the Soviet Army as a captain, Vlasov has worked as a professional writer. He has published over 15 novels (most notably the Flaming Cross trilogy [1991-93] about life during the 1917 Russian revolution and shortly thereafter) and over 10 short story collections. His works have been translated into several languages, including English. In 1973 he also edited and published his father’s diaries The Special Region of China, 1942-45 about his father’s work in China, which has been translated into six languages, including English and Chinese.

From 1985-87 Vlasov worked as president of the Soviet Weightlifting Federation and from 1987-89 Vlasov was president of the Soviet Gymnastics Federation. In 1989 he was elected to the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Soviet Union (the highest body of state authority of the Soviet Union from 1989-91) from the Lyublyansky district of Moscow. After the elections he broke with the Communist Party and started the liberal Inter-regional Deputies Group in the Congress, along with Andrey Sakharov, Anatoly Sobchak and Boris Yeltsin. In 1993 Vlasov was elected to the Russian State Duma. In 1996 he entered the Russian presidential elections, but with little success, receiving only 0.02% of the vote (second-to-last among 10 participants). After this poor showing Vlasov retired from politics.

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