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. And the most fun rumors involve the superheavyweights, big people lifting bigger weights above and beyond what we’ve seen on the international competition stage. The rumors are further fueled by the international nature of weightlifting, especially during the Soviet era, where giants behind the Red Curtain were putting up numbers still yet to be matched — and, of course, this was all before the time when every with a cell phone could be an accomplished cinematographer.
And while video of Anatoly Pisarenko’s rumored 280kg clean or Eugene Sypko’s competition 216.5kg snatch have yet to see the light of day, we’ve still got plenty to work with. Below, we’ve assembled the seven heaviest snatches ever caught on film. It’s a mix of training lifts, not just competition makes — and, yes, we’re including lifts off the blocks, because they’re heavy and this is fun.
Below are the heaviest snatches you can watch from the comfort of your smart phone. Let’s hope this list is only temporary, because we’d like to see some more of these numbers in competition soon.
1. Heaviest, period: Behdad Salimi snatches 220 kilograms in the lead up to Rio 2016.
2. Heaviest off the blocks: Aleksey Lovchev snatches 220 kilograms from the blocks in training.
3. Heaviest in competition: Behdad Salimi snatches 217kg in Iranian national team selection. This lift doesn’t count toward international world records because it was not an IWF meet. A couple months later, Salimi would go on to set a new World Record at 214, also on this list.
Note: The lift occurs at the very beginning of the video, and we haven’t found a more complete version (yet).
4. Heaviest in international competition: Two way-tie between Behdad Salimi and Antonio Krastev, both at 216kg.
Salimi lifted 216kg just minutes after eventual 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Lasha Talakhadze set a new world record with 215kg. (The previous record of 214kg belonged to Salimi.) The 216kg snatch meant Salimi was able to reclaim the snatch World Record in the superheavyweight class.
Antonio Krastev snatches 216kg at the 1987 World Weightlifting Championships. The lift and training running up to the competition was documented in the documentary film “School of Champions.”
5. Second-heaviest in international competition: Two-way tie between Lasha Talakhadze and Alexander Kurlovich with 215kg.
Talakhadze briefly held a new world record when he snatched 215kg in a video by NBC seen here. (Note: NBC has disabled embedding of the video in the U.S.A.)
Alexander Kurlovich snatched 215kg at the 1989 World Weightlifting Championships (video embedded below).
6. Another 215kg snatch, though not in international competition. Ashot Danielyan snatches 215kg (and clean & jerks 262.5kg) on his way to the highest competition total in weightlifting history. The competition was not IWF sanctioned and, as far as we can tell, open only to Armenian lifters. Danielyan was banned by the IWF in 2000 after a positive doping test — he was originally the bronze medalist in Sydney, but had that title stripped.
Danielyan returned to competition in the mid-2000s after his ban was up and retired around 2006.
7. Dmitry Lapikov snatches 215kg in training. Lapikov’s best international finishes were made as a 105kg lifter (he won bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics), though he moved up to 105+ in the early 2010s. Though he originally won the 2011 European Championship as a 105+, Lapikov’s results were disqualified for a positive doping test. It looks like this lift was made during his ban period after that test.
Here’s another 215kg snatch from Lapikov in training:
8. Last, but certainly not least, is Behdad Salimi’s former snatch World Record at 214kg, set at the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships held at Disneyland Paris.
Know a massive superheavyweight (or heck, heavyweight) snatch we missed where video exists? Let us know in the comments below!