Super heavyweight lifter Vasily Alekseyev, who dominated the sport throughout the 1970s, and also became a Soviet-era Cold War icon, has died at the age of 69.
Alekseyev, who won two Olympic and eight world super heavyweight titles in addition to setting 80 world records throughout his career, passed away in a German clinic Friday, Ria Novosti reported. He had been suffering heart problems for some time; he was sent to the clinic after his health detoriated.
He was unbeaten from 1970 to 1978 and held the world record of 1,419 pounds for three lifts set in 1972. The record will stand because the triple competition is no longer held, The Associated Press reported.
His brilliant victories will remain forever in the memory of his fans and will serve as an example for young athletes, a statement used by the Rostov governor's office said.
Born in Shakhty, southern Russia, in 1942, Alekseyev set his first world record in January 1970, capturing the world title later that year.
On Friday, the Russian weightlifting federation confirmed his death, describing him as one of the strongest people on the planet and a legend of Soviet sport.
In April 1975, Sports Illustrated put him on its cover under the headline: World's Strongest Man.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko paid tribute to Alekseyev as a great public activist and caring man, in addition to his athletic abilities.