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 six 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: Aleksey Lovchev snatches 220 kilograms from the blocks in training.
2. 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).
3. Antonio Krastev snatches 216kg at the 1987 World Weightlifting Championships. This remains the heaviest snatch made in international competition, though it’s no longer the official world record after weight class restructuring. The lift and training running up to the competition was documented in the documentary film “School of Champions.”
4. Alexander Kurlovich snatches 215kg at the 1989 World Weightlifting Championships.
5. 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.
6. Last, but certainly not least, is Behdad Salimi’s current snatch World Record snatch 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!