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Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Sergey Utochkin – Russian Superman

Sergey Utochkin

Sergey Utochkin

Best cyclist of the Russian Empire, a pioneer of aeronautics, yachtsman, boxer and footballer. Sergey Utochkin was a real Russian superman. His life was bright, but tragic.
Sergey was born on July 12, 1876 into a family of Odessa merchant. His parents passed away, so the boy was raised up by foster carers. For some time the boy lived with Krause, school teacher, alcoholic and many children’s father. One day Krause hanged himself in the attic. Wife found a dead husband went mad with grief. She stabbed her own children. Utochkin was saved by a miracle. Obviously, that’s why Sergey was interested in extreme sports and put himself in mortal danger.
At the age of 15 Sergey left Commercial College and decided to become an athlete. He began his career with cycling. For more than 15 years he remained unbeaten Russian cyclist. He became the champion of European competitions and constantly tried to expand the boundaries of what’s possible. He ran a race with the tram, competed with a racehorse, dived, did martial arts, skydove and became one of the most famous pilots of Tsarist Russia.

Utochkin was called “Academician of sport”. He was not only a famous cyclist, but won tennis, fencing, boxing, wrestling and swimming, rowing and speed skating competitions, did jiu-jitsu, participated in sailing regattas (he had built a yacht himself), played professional football. In total he tried his hand at 15 sports.
Utochkin is considered one of the first Russian professional football players. For 17 years he played for the Odessa British Athletic Club, created two own football clubs in Odessa and was the captain of one of them. Sergey finished his football career at the age of 34.
Once in his childhood Utochkin grabbed the windmill wing and made a couple of laps. Aeronautics was his true passion. In 1907 Sergey flew in a hot air balloon over Odessa. Then there were flights over Egypt. Soon Utochkin went to Paris, the former world center of the nascent aviation capabilities. There he worked in a factory, watched the flights of the French aviators. Utochkin came back with motors and drawings intending to build his own aircraft. However, he did not have enough money. Odessa banker Ksidias bought biplane Farman IV in Paris. And in March 1910 Utochkin made his first flight, becoming the second pilot in the history of Russia. The first Russian aviator was Mikhail Efimov.
Utochkin made about 150 demonstration flights in 70 cities. His flights had the strongest influence on many Russian aircraft designers, including Sergei Korolev.
Sergey’s eccentricity made him very popular. But after a flight in 1911 luck left him. After the accident, he became a drug addict. His wife went to the factory owner Arthur Anatra, who was a president of the Odessa flying club. So the way to the sky was closed for Utochkin.
Mental illness developed. It was delusions of persecution, he saw the hidden enemies everywhere.
Sergei moved to St. Petersburg. On June 26, 1913 he tried to enter the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg with the requirement to report to the king that “famous aviator needs his protection”.
On January 13, 1916 Utochkin died at a mental health clinic.
But in history, he remained as one of the most prominent Russian people of XX century.

Monument to Sergey Utochkin in Odessa

Monument to Sergey Utochkin in Odessa