“The heart could fail”

The tragedy of the 1964 Olympic freestyle wrestling champion Alexander Ivanitsky happened on July 22 in the Ruza district of the Moscow region. On this day, he left home for mushrooms and disappeared. For about three days, the police, volunteers and rescuers with a helicopter were looking for him. It was hoped that the 82-year-old veteran simply got lost and couldn’t find his way home. But few believed in this version: his phone worked all this time, messages arrived, but he did not answer.

The miracle did not happen: the famous wrestler was found dead on the banks of the Vejna River. Shortly before that, rescuers found his personal belongings and phone. Apparently, Ivanitsky drowned when he wanted to cross to the other side.

Champion’s son Vladimir Ivanitsky suggested that his father could fail his heart.

“He left his house on July 22 at 12 noon, we live in the village of Elniki, Ruzsky district, looking for mushrooms in the direction of the river. We had such a hobby, we took some kind of watercraft with us, you melt, pick mushrooms and come back. People don’t really get there, and dad allowed himself such a pleasure once a year. He went into the water and something happened while he was swimming, I guess something happened, maybe the heart, maybe a cramp. ”

Survived the blockade

There are many bright pages in the biography of Alexander Ivanitsky. As a child, he survived the blockade in Leningrad, as he spoke about in an interview with OTR TV channel after the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

“I was four years old when I found myself in the blockade. I remember everything, day after day, my brother and I are in a dark room, the windows are sealed with strips of paper, there is a smokehouse on the table.

Mom was a civil defense fighter, she came from duty and cooked cabbage soup from cabbage leaves, which even the cattle were not given. After a piece of bread was cut with a knife, the second knife was used to peel off the bread film …

When we got into the convoy that was evacuating civilians, my father did not have a travel permit. Thanks to the soldiers who saw the children in the car under the tarpaulin and let us go …

We hardly found a hut where we were allowed to spend the night. The hostess made room on the stove, where we settled down next to her children, and fed us cabbage soup. My father looked at me and asked: “Give me a sip, please.” Those his eyes and those words are forever engraved in my memory … “

Victory at the 1964 Olympics

Ivanitsky’s finest hour struck in 1964 in Tokyo. The mere fact that after the war the junior became an athlete is an incredible fact. At 17, when he first entered the wrestling hall, he suffered from anemia, was thin, hardly anyone could see in him the future champion.

Champions of the 18th Summer Olympic Games in freestyle wrestling Alexander Ivanitsky / first from left / and Alexander Medved give their first autographs. Photo: RIA Novosti / S. Ilyin

However, the coach Sergei Preobrazhensky the sixth sense suggested: this guy can work. Ivanitsky quickly began to gain weight, adding technically. And quite quickly he became the champion in youth. Well, then – reaching the adult level, where from 1962 to 1966 he did not lose a single fight. First, he won two World Championships in a row, and then the Olympic Games, in the final of which he defeated a Bulgarian Lyutvi Akhmedova.

The Voice of the Olympics-80

At the end of his career, Ivanitsky took up social activities. In the Central Committee of the Komsomol, he supervised mass competitions, including such large and prestigious ones as “Leather Ball” and “Golden Puck”. And then the famous wrestler got on television, heading the editorial board of sports programs of the USSR State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company. In fact, Alexander Vladimirovich created the prototype of the current sports TV.

On his account – the opening and closing ceremonies of the Moscow Olympics-80. He not only commented on them, but also created a picture for dozens of countries.

Chief editor of the main editorial office of sports programs of the Central Television and Radio Broadcasting of the USSR, world champion in freestyle wrestling Alexander Vladimirovich Ivanitsky, 1973
Chief editor of the main editorial office of sports programs of the Central Television and Radio Broadcasting Company of the USSR, world champion in freestyle wrestling Alexander Vladimirovich Ivanitsky, 1973.Photo: RIA Novosti / Nikolai Bolotin

“I was in charge of all sports: radio and television. Did the Moscow Olympics. He was the main person responsible for the production of the entire international television picture for the whole world, – said Ivanitsky. – In 2000, he left television, because the sport was driven out. We showed the World Athletics Championship at two in the morning, the World Wrestling Championship at three in the morning. I came to our leaders: “We need to return sport to its rightful place.” They answered me: “We will put those programs that bring advertising in a worthy place.” To this I said: “Then the public library has no chance of winning against the brothel.” And he got a wolf ticket “, – quotes Ivanitsky” SE “.

Recently, Alexander Vladimirovich was more engaged in literary activity: he wrote books, recalled his past in numerous interviews.

It is extremely bitter that the life path of such a strong-minded fighter was interrupted in a tragic way. In the memory of family and friends, he will forever remain a bright and bright person.