The man who was weightlifting for so many years has passed away. Vasily Alexseyev died this past Friday in Germany of heart issues. He was 69.
I was fortunate to meet the man in person at the 2003 World Championships in Vancouver. Harvey Newton and I were in the walking through the venue when this famous wall of a man came toward us. (That's the very cool thing about going to an Olympics or World Championship--you will see so many former greats strolling the venue or having a drink in the hotel lobby!)
Harvey was kind enough to introduce me to him. Alexseyev was very much a gentleman. I am not sure what came over me, but I had the irresistible urge to pat him on that enormous belly. As I did, Vasily Alexseyev winked and put his index finger to his lips to say "shhhh, don't tell anyone" and then he smiled.
The world's most famous weightlifter had, arguably, the world's most famous belly to ever tumble out of a tiny red singlet.
He set 80 world records during his career and was the first man to clean & jerk over 500 lbs in competition. For more information about Vasily Alexseyev and his career, check out this 44 min documentary.