Ivan Poddubny

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Ivan Poddubny
Ivan Poddubny.jpg
Birth nameIvan Maximovich Poddubny
Born(1871-10-09)9 October 1871
Krasenivka, Zolotonosha Uyezd, Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire
(now Chornobai Raion, Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine)
Died8 August 1949(1949-08-08) (aged 77)
Yeysk, Yeysk region, Krasnodar Krai, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Spouse(s)Antonina Kvitko-Khomenko[1] (1909–20)
Mariya Mashoshyna (1923[1]–49)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)The Champion of Champions, Ivan The Terrible, The Russian Hercules
Billed height185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Billed weight120 kg (265 lb)
Trained byEugène de Paris

Ivan Maximovich Poddubny (Russian: Ива́н Максимович Подду́бный; 9 October [O.S. 26 September] 1871 – 8 August 1949) was a Zaporozhian Cossack-born[3][4][5][6][7] professional wrestler from the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union. He began his sports career around 1900; his career lasted for about forty years and he lost only two times.


Piddubniy was born on John the Apostle day in 1871 into a family of Zaporozhian Cossacks[3][4][5][6][7] in the village of Krasenivka, in the Zolotonosha county (uyezd) of the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Chornobai Raion of Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine). Having a big family Poddubny senior had a difficult time to provide for his big family, therefore Ivan was forced to leave the father's house before turning 20.[1] As a young man, Poddubny worked as a fitter in the ports of Sevastopol and Feodosiya for seven years earning a nickname of Ivan the Great.[1] In Feodosiya Ivan started to practice with kettlebells and participated in some wrestling fights.[1] Sometime since 1897[1]-1898 he started traveling with circus tours and performed at first Sevastopol and later Kiev arenas.[1]

Sometime in 1903 Poddubny joined the Saint Petersburg Athletic Club with which he participated in World Championships in Moscow and Paris.[1] In 1905 he became the World Champion in wrestling in Paris and later toured Italy, Algeria, Belgium, Berlin, winning a championship in Nice.[1] In 1906 Poddubny won two more World Cups in Paris and Milan.[1] Before returning to his home in Krasenivka in 1910, he also won several more world cups in Vienna, Paris, and Frankfurt.[1]

Repeatedly Ivan won Greco-Roman wrestling "World Cups" among professionals, including the most authoritative of them – in Paris (1905–08). In 1925–27 he performed in Germany and US.[3]

According to the Krasenivka museum, he did not waste his money earned during fights and upon return home bought 200 ha (490 acres) of land, two houses in a neighboring Bohodukhivka village, a small store, a churn shop, two mills one of which was located in Orzhytsia (today a town in Poltava Oblast).[1] Around that time he got married for the first time. Sometime in 1913 Poddubny participated in another World Cup in Moscow where he became a runner-up.[1] It was then when his wife left him for another taking his gold medals.[1]

While touring in Rostov, Ivan meets his future second wife whom he marries in 1923.[1] In 1920s he was touring the United States staying undefeated while visiting New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco. During his tour in the United States he was forced to fight freestyle as his opponents.[2] At age 56 Ivan won a beauty contest among men in the United States.[1] Being unable to take out his earned half a million dollars from the bank (required to be a citizen), he left for home.[1] Later Ivan continued to perform in the Russian circuses retiring finally at age of 70.[1] His last farewell performance he did in the Tula city circus in 1941.[2] After the retirement he with his wife settled in Kuban buying a two-storey house with a garden in Yeysk.[1]

In November 1939, he was given the title of Honored Artist of the RSFSR, and in 1945 that of Honored Master of Sports.

During the Nazi German occupation, he refused to leave the Soviet Union to train German wrestlers.[8]

Poddubny maintained a lifelong professional rivalry with wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko. He died undefeated on 8 August 1949, in the town of Yeysk, in the Kuban region in Southern Russia from a heart attack.[1] Ivan was buried in Yeysk in a park outside of the city.[2] At his burial site was installed an obelisk that used to say "Here lies the Russian bogatyr".[2]

Personal life[edit]

His first wife, Antonina cheated on him and ran away with another, stealing his gold medals.[1] Antonina later regretted her actions and attempted to return, but Ivan would not forgive her.[1]

According to the director of the Krasenivka museum, Ivan had three sisters (Motrona, Maryna, and Yevdokiya) and three brothers (Omelyan, Mykyta, and Mytrofan).[1] The fate of Omelyan and Mykyta is unknown, while Mytrofan continued to live in Krasenivka where he died in 1966.[1] The last relative of Ivan Poddubny who lived in Krasenivka was his granddaughter Hanna Zakharivna who died sometime before 2011.[1] It is also known that both Motrona and Maryna had three children each, yet the most close relations Ivan kept with his youngest sister Yevdokiya and was a godfather of her daughter Mariya.[1] Eventually Yevdokiya moved to a neighboring village of Bohodukhivka and later to Zolotonosha.[1]

Ivan's father name was Maksym Ivanovych Poddubny.[1] According to the Krasenivka museum, Ivan Poddubny's height was 180 cm (71 in), his weight was 118 kg (260 lb), his biceps girth was 44 cm (17 in), and his neck was 60 cm (24 in) thick.[1]

Among Ivan Poddubny's friends was Dmytro Yavornytsky who lived in Dnipropetrovsk (Yekaterinoslav).

Ukrainian stamp with Poddubny
Ivan Piddubny poster.jpg

Championships, accomplishments and awards[edit]


There is a monument dedicated to Ivan Poddubny in his home village of Krasenivka.[1] There also is the Ivan Poddubny Fund headed by Petro Dusheiko (former governor of Chornobai Raion).[1] The Fund sponsors the annual festival of bogatyr strength which is conducted since 1998.[1] The festival which gathers up to 10,000 people was visited once by a grandson and great grandson of Ivan Poddubny who arrived from Kazakhstan.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Nikitenko, T. Bogatyr from Krasenivka. Ukrayina Moloda. 7 October 2011
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Karnaruk, L. At 55 Poddubny was as health as the 25 year old. Gazeta in Ukrainian. 8 October 2015
  3. ^ a b c Абсолютная сила Ивана. vokrugsveta.ru
  4. ^ a b ИВАН ПОДДУБНЫЙ (Ivan Piddubny). history.vn.ua
  5. ^ a b Иван Поддубный в Екатеринославе позировал и дрался
  6. ^ a b Nikolai Sukhomlin (16 March 2009) Богатырь Иван ПОДДУБНЫЙ: из грузчиков в чемпионы. h.ua
  7. ^ a b Иван Поддубный (Ivan Poddubny). ote4estvo.ru. 6 July 2011
  8. ^ Сильный мира сего: почему от Ивана Поддубного сбежала жена, и зачем борец работал вышибалой в баре. Argumenty i Fakty
  9. ^ "Иван Максимович Поддубный -наш великий земляк (Ivan Maksimovich Poddubny – Our Great Countryman)". Tourism Website "My Eisk". Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  10. ^ "3 россиянина, награждённые орденом Почётного легиона за необычные заслуги (3 Russians Awarded Légion d'honneur for Unusual Merits)". Russian Daily "Sobesednik". 16 August 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2014.

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