In Russia, as in no other country, there have always been many athletes, whose achievements caused the amazement of the public. Their portraits were on the pages of sports magazines, on the posters, in shop windows. Athletes and wrestlers shocked the audience with their power tricks, they were legends. They performed in circuses and at fairs, on sports arenas not only in Russia, but also abroad, were the pride of the country. Their heroic games brought people great pleasure. Among the spectators there were those who checked their properties, weights and chains, for weight and strength, always making sure that everything was authentic, without deception. Let’s remember at least some of the famous Russian heroes.
Peter Krylov graduated from the Naval College in St. Petersburg. As a navigator he visited India, China, Japan, England and trained hard everywhere. Under the “March of the gladiators” a short man appeared in the arena with a striking relief of musculature. The presenter explained: biceps – 46 cm, neck – 55 cm. Having fun talking to the audience, Peter raised a special platform with a horse and a horseman, then there were two dozen people on it. You know, he broke several big stones with his fist, broke two horseshoes. Also he made “ties” and “bracelets” from thick iron bands, held the car on the chest.
Peter had repeatedly won prizes in the championships of the French wrestling, set several world records in weightlifting. And in his free time, he lectured on the importance of physical development, and shared his experience with young people. The unique hero stopped performing in the circus when he was 60 years old.
Fyodor Besov, famous all over Russia, demonstrated breathtaking power stunts – he tore chains and decks of cards, blindfolded juggled weights. One day he caused indescribable delight among the residents of small town Sloboda, Vyatka Province, when at the end of the performance he offered volunteers to fight him. A two-meter-long bearded man in a canvas shirt and bast shoes entered the arena. The fight began. As a result, the athlete was laid on the shoulder blades. Those who defeated him turned out to be a strong man known in the province Grigory Kashcheev, a man of great height. The shoulders of the strong man hardly passed through the door.
Fyodor Besov realized that he had met a true nugget, he had long persuaded Gregory to perform together. He finally agreed. The life of the duet was not easy. Constant trips, performance in the rain and the scorching sun.
In 1906, during fights with world-class fighters, Gregory laid many famous strongmen on the shoulder blades. In 1908, together with two Ivans – Poddubny and Zaikin – he participates in the world championship of athletes in Paris. Our heroes returned to their homeland with a victory. However, Gregory returned to his native village, because he wasn’t greedy for money and fame, but he was a Russian peasant-farmer.
With orchestra on … chest
And here is another phenomenal strongman – Yakuba Tchekhovskoy. He performed in 1913 in the former Mikhailovsky Manege in St. Petersburg and showed a sensational power trick – he carried six soldiers of a guard regiment weighing more than 440 kilograms on one hand, for which he was awarded an honorary gold belt. No one could repeat this record, but Yakuba showed it constantly. On the chest of this strongman there was a special platform, which housed a brass band of 30 musicians. The volume of the athlete’s biceps was up to half a meter! Three trucks with an audience were driven on the bogatyr’s chest. He finished his sports activities at the age of 58, making a farewell performance at the Minsk Dynamo Stadium. It was the summer of 1937. The money was sent in favor of orphans – children of Spanish patriots who died in the civil war.
… The circus is full of spectators. The orchestra plays loudly. Several people are driving a huge sea anchor weighing 400 kg on a trolley. The presenter announces: “A record trick! The only performer in the world! Russian bogatyr Ivan Zaikin!” Former aviator Zaikin appears in the arena. The handsome man stops in front of the anchor. Grabbing the huge metal thing, he deftly puts it behind his back. Ivan slowly bypasses the arena with an anchor on his back. Thunder applause!
Moreover, he showed the “live carousel”: twisted on his shoulders a long bar with ten people hanging on it. Colossal power and speed of reaction allowed him to become the winner in the fights. Zaikin’s strength and artistry combined with the charm of his personality. Having completed the performance, the legendary bogatyr usually walked around the arena with a soft tiger’s walk and bowed to the public under the incessant applause.