Russian Personalities

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

Ivan Poddubny – Russian Bogatyr

Ivan Poddubny
On August 8, 1949, in the city of Yeysk, in terrible poverty (he even had to sell all his awards not to starve), died of a heart attack Ivan Poddubny. He was a legendary Russian and Soviet professional wrestler and athlete, six-time World Champion, the strongest man on the planet.
His career lasted for about forty years.
He became the Champion of America in 1926 at the age of 55!
Russian bogatyr weighed about 130 kg and was a vegetarian. (“bogatyr” is an epic hero of Russian folk legends)

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Ivan was born on October 8, 1871 in the village of Krasenovka (Zolotonosha Uyezd, Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire), into the family of a hereditary Zaporozhye Cossack Maxim Poddubny.
Ivan’s father boasted a giant stature and Herculean power. Many years later Ivan Poddubny said that the only person stronger than him was his father.
As a young man, Poddubny worked as a port loader in Sevastopol and Feodosiya.
In 1896 Ivan defeated famous athletes of that time and the victories marked the start of his extraordinary career as a wrestler.
In 1898 he joined the circus, which belonged to Gigetto Truzzi, and performed as a weight lifter athlete and a wrestler.
In 1903 Ivan was invited to participate in competitions at the World Championship against the France, where he got 11 wins.
In 1905 Poddubny competed again in Paris at the World Cup, where he managed to overcome all his opponents and was awarded the prize and a diploma conferring the title of World Champion.
In 1910, Ivan married Nina Kvitko-Fomenko and settled with her in the village of Bohoduhovka in Poltava region.
In 1920 he received news that his wife went to the other man. For the first time Ivan was depressed and in 1922 married again.
In 1920 Poddubny was arrested by the Odessa Cheka (The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Speculation, and Sabotage) and was sentenced to execution, however, was soon released.
In 1923 — 1924 Poddubny worked in the Russian State Circus, and then spent 3 years touring around Germany and the USA.
In November, 1939 he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and the title of the Honored Artist of RSFSR.
During the Nazi German occupation, he refused to train German wrestlers: “I am a Russian fighter. And so will I remain”.
In 1945 Ivan was awarded the title Honored Master of Sports.

Poddubny visited over 150 cities in 14 countries. Though he lost rare fights, but he never lost any competition or tournament.

Ivan died in Yeysk on August 8, 1949. He was buried in the city park, which was later named after him.

Ivan Poddubny – Russian Bogatyr