Like all sports, weightlifting has its legends of near-mythical lifts hit in training or local/unfilmed competitions — snatches and clean & jerks rumored about but never confirmed. The most fun rumors involve the super heavyweights, big people lifting bigger weights. The rumors are further fueled by the international nature of weightlifting, especially during the Soviet era, where giants behind the Iron Curtain were putting up numbers still yet to be matched — and, of course, this was all before the time when everyone with a cell phone could be an accomplished cinematographer.
While video of Anatoly Pisarenko’s rumored 280-kilogram (617.3-pound) clean or Eugene Sypko’s (confirmed) competition 216.5-kilogram (477.3-pound) snatch have yet to see the light of day, we’ve still got plenty to work with. Below, we’ve assembled the heaviest snatches ever caught on film. It’s a mix of training lifts, and not just competition makes — and, yes, we include lifts off of blocks.
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1. Heaviest Snatch of All Time (On Film): Lasha Talkhadze, 225 Kilograms (496 pounds)
On April 29, 2021, Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze snatched 225 kilograms (496 pounds) in training. He then converted it into an official record at the 2021 World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It is the heaviest snatch ever caught on film and broke the previous record he held by three kilograms. Check out the first time Talakhadze smashed the all-time heaviest snatch on camera, originally posted on his Instagram page:
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2. Heaviest Competition Snatch of All Time: Lasha Talakhadze, 225 Kilograms (496 pounds)
The progression of the all-time heaviest snatch has been in Talakhadze’s hands for quite some time. Before hitting the all-time world record at the 2021 World Championships after hitting it successfully in training, the Georgian super heavyweight snatched 222 kilograms at the European Weightlifting Championships, held in Moscow, Russia, from April 3-11, 2021. Before that competition, Talakhadze’s official snatch world record was 220 kilograms, though he had snatched 222 and 223 kilograms in training previously.
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3. Second Heaviest Snatch of All Time (On Film): Lasha Talakhadze, 223 Kilograms (489.4 Pounds)
Talakhadze posted a video of him snatching 223 kilograms on March 23, 2021. At the time, it was the heaviest snatch ever caught on camera — it was three kilograms over his then world record. Now, the lift is two kilograms fewer than his best-ever competition snatch.
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4. Heaviest Olympic Snatch: Lasha Talakhadze, 223 Kilograms (489.4 Pounds)
Again, Talakhadze is in a league all his own. At the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Talakhadze advanced every Olympic record in the Superheavyweight division, including a snatch of 223 kilograms (489.4 pounds). It was the world record until he broke it again at the 2021 World Championships.
Before Talakhadze’s Tokyo Games performance, Behdad Salimi’s 216 kilograms (476.2 pounds) scored at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was the Olympic record and a world record at the time. He went on to bomb on all of his 245-kilogram clean & jerk attempts and would later call his performance a “nightmare.”
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5. Heaviest Off the Blocks: Aleksey Lovchev, 220 Kilograms (485 Pounds)
Some see blocks as making for an easier lift, but they can have many benefits, especially for emphasizing the top of the pull. The heaviest we’ve seen comes from a training video Russian athlete Aleksey Lovchev uploaded in 2014 before he went on to act in a Rocky-esque movie about an underdog weightlifter.
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6. Heaviest Competition Attempt On Video: Lasha Talakhadze, 221 Kilograms (487.2 Pounds)*
*Since Talakhadze’s performance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games and 2021 World Championships encompass nearly all of this list — he’s seriously that strong — this section is asterisked to highlight some of his progression. At the 2018 European Championships, Talakhadze attempted what, at the time, would have been the heaviest snatch of all time with 221 kilograms (487.2 pounds). It wasn’t in the cards then, but we know how it played out for three years later.
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Know a massive super heavyweight (or heck, heavyweight) snatch we missed where video exists? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image via weightlifting.archive’s YouTube channel.