Andrei Aramnau Cut Off a Finger to Compete in Weightlifting

The story of Andrei Aramnau is an interesting one, and a brand new interview on his YouTube channel is shedding some light onto his past — and raising questions about his future.

Aramnau hails from Belarus, said he retired in 2016, and to this day holds the world record for the snatch in the 105kg weight class, having completed a monumental lift of 200kg (441lb) at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He also clean & jerked 236kg and totaled 436kg, which were both world records at the time. (Ilya Ilyin currently holds the world record for the 105kg class clean & jerk with 246kg.)

In footage recently translated from his YouTube channel and posted on All Things Gym, Aramnau discusses his upbringing and his childhood. (Note the video below is totally in Russian.)

He describes a life wracked with poverty — Aramnau says most of his childhood friends are either in prison, alcoholics, or drug addicts — and notes that he happened to live in the same building as USSR medalist Viktor Groda, who took him to a weightlifting gym at 9 years old.

“I wanted to be strong and handsome like him,” says Aramnau. “(I) never became as handsome.”

He trained consistently throughout his adolescence, saying there was simply nothing else to do unless he took up drinking and drugs. At 14 he started seriously training for the Under 17 European Weightlifting Championships, and that’s when something happens that we’re pretty sure has never happened to anyone else in weightlifting history. 

When I was born I had 6 fingers on my hand thanks to Chernobyl. Coach gave me an ultimatum: to train for Europeans I had to cut off the finger. At 14 years old I was very scared, but I went by myself to Minsk to cut it off. Because my parents were not able to get me back from the hospital, I escaped by myself.

Wait, what? That’s craziest story we’ve ever heard. We couldn’t find any information about Andreu Aramnau’s sixth finger in English, but a BarBend Russian correspondent found a 2008 article where he says of his sixth finger, “It worked like a normal finger. And because of this, since childhood, I understood that I am better because I have something extra.”

And in another piece from Sport.ru,

It’s a shame that the finger had to be removed. At the age of 14, when I began to show good results and prepare for the first international championships, I was told that at the competitions everyone should be the same.

And then, they saID iF I WON, they might not count the result. They gave an example that if I had four hands, it would be easier for me to win, and that would be unfair.

Then I realized that I was convinced in vain, because the sixth finger did not help and did not interfere with my sport. (…) My extra finger in general did not affect me at all. It just reminded me once again that I’m an unusual person. But I don’t think that that helped me win.

Anyway, after a slew of injuries including herniated disks and a torn quad, he retired in 2016, citing his damaged quad, an “overload of the body” and “often being tired.”

But now he seems to be feeling a lot better. He says that he got back into training two months ago and has already snatched 160kg and clean & jerked 180kg. He says, “This year is for recovery. The main goal is the 2019 European Games.”

The thing is that weightlifting doesn’t appear to be a sport at the European Games, so either Aramnau is mistaken, he has advance knowledge of the sports that will be in the 2019 games, or he was mistranslated and he’s talking about the European Weightlifting Championships or some other event.

In any case, he sounds unmistakably focused on returning to competition. Whatever form that takes, we’ll be watching.

Featured image via @ariamnovandrei on Instagram.

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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.