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On 15 June 1955, Paul Anderson, the 340-pound American heavyweight, lay on a couch waiting for his first attempt at a weightlifting competition in Moscow between the Soviet Union and the United States.1 The event, held at the large, outdoor Zelyony Theater in Gorky Park, was the first of two contests being held as part of a goodwill trip authorized by the U.S. State Department.2 During the contest, lifter after lifter warmed up backstage, pacing nervously between sets as they awaited their tum on the enormous stage festooned with Soviet and American flags. Anderson and his teammates—Tommy Kono, Chuck Vinci, Stan Stanczyk, Joe Pitman, and Dave Sheppard—had appeared on stage earlier that evening for the lavish opening ceremonies along with American officials Bob Hoffman, Clarence Johnson, and John Terpak. Since that time, however, the twenty-two-year-old Georgian had reclined on a couch in the back seemingly unperturbed by the historic nature of the evening. According to Arkady Vorobyov, one of the Soviet weightlifters who was there that evening, "when [Anderson's] turn came, he got up from the couch with all the elegance of an elephant and went straight out onto the platform."3 He did not warm up.4


Terry & Jan Todd


University of Texas at Austin


Austin, TX

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Iron Game History