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. It is the heaviest snatch ever caught on film and is currently three kilograms over his current world record of 222 kilograms (489 pounds). On that same day, Talakhadze also released footage of a 270-kilogram clean & jerk. Check out this all-time heaviest snatch, originally posted on Talakhadze’s Instagram page:
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2. Heaviest Competition Snatch of All Time: Lasha Talakhadze, 222 Kilograms (489 Pounds)
The Georgian super heavyweight snatched 222 kilograms at the European Weightlifting Championships, held in Moscow, Russia, from April 3-11, 2021. Before this competition, Talakhadze’s official snatch world record was 220 kilograms, though he had snatched 222 and 223 kilograms in training.
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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 — but Talakhadze beat his own mark on April 29, 2021. When this lift took place, it was three kilograms over his world record at the time. Now, the lift is one kilogram more than his best-ever competition snatch.
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4. Heaviest Olympic Snatch: Behdad Salimi, 216 Kilograms (476.2 Pounds)
Salimi’s 216 kilograms (476.2 pounds) was a world record when he made it at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and it remains the heaviest lift ever made at the Olympics. He went on to bomb on all of his 245-kilogram clean & jerk attempts and would later call his performance a “nightmare,” but that 216-kilogram (476.2-pound) snatch is still the heaviest ever.
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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)
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 that’s ok because we all know how it played out for the super heavyweight 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.