Ivan Poddubny

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Ivan Poddubny
File:Ivan Poddubny.jpg
Birth name Ivan Maximovich Poddubny
Born (1871-10-09)9 October 1871
Krasenivka, Zolotonosha Uyezd, Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire
(now Chornobai Raion, Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine)
Died 8 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 height 185 cm (6.07 ft; 73 in)
Billed weight 120 kg (260 lb)
Trained by Eugène de Paris
Debut 1896
Retired 1941[2]

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


File:Stamp of Ukraine s124.jpg
Ukrainian stamp with Poddubny

Poddubny 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 Piddubny 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 Piddubny 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 Piddubny won two more World Cups in Paris and Milan.[1] Before returning back 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 Piddubny 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, 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] Without being unable to take out his earned half a million dollars from the bank (required to be a citizen), he left for home.[1] Upon return, he found out that his relatives whom he spared some of his land were classified as kulaks.[1] In 1937 the NKVD agents detained him in the Rostov prison for a year where he was tortured, due to his corrections in the passport.[2] The NKVD agents also were requesting from Piddubny to tell about his bank accounts abroad where he could have held money earned for his fights.[2]

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] In 1988 somebody destroyed the obelisk and wrote Khokhol-Petliuravite (see Anti-Ukrainian sentiment#Ethnic slurs).[2]

Personal life

When Ivan Piddubny was issued a passport, it stated that he is Russian with a surname Poddubny.[1] He was forced to make corrections and himself changed his nationality to Ukrainian with a surname Piddubny.[1]

His first wife Antonina cheated on him and ran away with another stealing his gold medals.[1] After she regretted and tried to return, but Ivan did 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 Piddubny who lived in Krasenivka was his grand-daughter 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 Piddubny.[1] According to the Krasenivka museum, Ivan Piddubny'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 Piddubny's friends was Dmytro Yavornytsky who lived in Dnipropetrovsk (Yekaterinoslav).

Championships, accomplishments and awards


There is a monument dedicated to Ivan Piddubny in his home village of Krasenivka.[1] There also is the Ivan Piddubny 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 Piddubny who arrived from Kazakhstan.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 Nikitenko, T. Bogatyr from Krasenivka. Ukrayina Moloda. 7 October 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Karnaruk, L. At 55 Piddubny was as health as the 25 year old. Gazeta in Ukrainian. 8 October 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Абсолютная сила Ивана. vokrugsveta.ru
  4. 4.0 4.1 ИВАН ПОДДУБНЫЙ (Ivan Piddubny). history.vn.ua
  5. 5.0 5.1 Иван Поддубный в Екатеринославе позировал и дрался
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nikolai Sukhomlin (16 March 2009) Богатырь Иван ПОДДУБНЫЙ: из грузчиков в чемпионы. h.ua
  7. 7.0 7.1 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links