Mikhail Koklyaev is one of history’s most impressive cross-sport strength athletes. He’s been a Russian Champion weightlifter, World’s Strongest Man medalist, Strongman Champions League winner, 2200+ lb raw powerlifter, and multi-time podium finisher at the Arnold Strongman Classic. But he might be best known for his just plain freaky feats of strength caught on camera, like this 110 kilo/242 pound ONE HANDED snatch from 2008.
Impressive, but if you read below, it’s still not the most in history.
To be fair, it’s not as if Mikhail was a powerlifter who decided to sling some weight overhead for a change. He got his start in weightlifting and was a world-class superheavyweight, with a snatch best of 210 kg and a clean & jerk best of 250 kg.
He also has one of the heaviest verified jerks of all time, with 270 kilograms lifted on camera (though from the back rack — still historically impressive either way).
(There’s a lot of speculation surrounding what kept him from competing more frequently on the international stage, and Koklyaev gave some of his side of the story in a 2015 interview with Dmitry Klokov, embedded at the bottom of this article.)
Koklyaev’s freaky one-armed athleticism was also on display at the 2015 Arnold Classic, where he attempted to break Charles Rigoulot’s 90-year-old record in the one armed/one handed snatch. Rogue built a special replica bar for the attempt, but after several valiant efforts, Koklyaev was unable to secure the 254 lb bar overhead to best Rigoulot’s lift (though he did make the 220 lb warmup bar look pretty manageable).
To be fair, Rigoulot was training for the one-armed snatch at a time when single arm lifts were one of the primary disciplines of weightlifting, and his form seemed pretty locked in. The rare, 20s-era video below shows some pretty outstanding mobility, timing, and speed from the 1924 Olympic gold medalist, even with the early 20th-century frame rate.
Koklyaev is 37, and while we’re pretty sure he’s got some strong years ahead of him, his prime competition years (across the range of strength sports he excelled in) are behind him. In late 2014, the Russian strength legend put together his own highlight reel from an international career that spanned over a decade and no fewer than three distinct sports — not to mention some weird no-hands squats and three-finger deadlifts just for the love of the game.
Here’s that aforementioned interview between Klokov and Koklyaev. H/t to AllThingsGym for giving it and many of Klokov’s other “On Par” interviews a spotlight.