Ivan Yarygin

Ivan Sergeyevich Yarygin (ya-RY-geen, Russian: Иван Сергеевич Ярыгин, IPA: [ɪˈvan sʲɪrˈɡʲeɪvʲɪtɕ jɪˈrɐɡʲɪn]; 7 November 1948 – 11 October 1997) was a Soviet and Russian heavyweight freestyle wrestler. Between 1970 and 1980 he won all his major international competitions, except for the 1970 and 1974 European championships where he placed second. Yarygin was an Olympic champion in 1972 and 1976, being the first wrestler to go through an Olympic competition with straight pin victories and no foul points,[3] a world champion in 1973, a World Cup winner five times, has never lost a single match in World Cup competition,[4] and a European champion in 1972 and 1975–76, and won a world cup in 1973, 1976–77 and 1979–80.[1] He also set a record for the fastest pin victory in the World Cup history at 27 seconds.[5] After retiring in 1980, he headed the Soviet freestyle wrestling team from 1982 to 1992 and the Russian Wrestling Federation from 1993 until his untimely death in a car crash in 1997.[6] An exceptional upper-body wrestler,[7] Yarygin was widely regarded for his tremendous physique and high-strength aggressive style, always aiming to pin down his opponents, with most of his stoppage wins came by way of fall achieved through rapid fireman's lift and slamming the opponent to the mat.[8] One of the most prestigious tournaments in the World was put together in his honor - The Golden Grand Prix Ivan Yarygin Tournament is held annually in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and has the reputation of being one hardest tournaments in the World. The Yarygin Memorial annually sees the world's best wrestlers come to Siberia, with the added element that Russia's autonomous oblasts and republics such as Dagestan and Chechnya field independent teams alongside an All-Russia selection.

Ivan Yarygin
Ivan Yarygin.jpg
Ivan Yarygin in 1976
Personal information
Native nameИван Сергеевич Ярыгин
Full nameIvan Sergeyevich Yarygin
Born(1948-11-07)7 November 1948
Ust-Kamzas, Kemerovo Oblast, Soviet Union
Died11 October 1997(1997-10-11) (aged 48)
Neftekumsk, Stavropol Krai, Russia
Height190 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight100 kg (220 lb)
SportFreestyle wrestling
Mindiashvili wrestling academy Trud Krasnoyarsk
Coached byDmitry Mindiashvili[1][2]
Updated on 2 December 2019.


Childhood and early careerEdit

Yarygin was born as the sixth child in a family of ten siblings. Most members of his family were heavily built and physically active people. Since early age Yarygin helped his father at his blacksmith workshop.[2] As a teenager he wanted to become a football goalkeeper, and took up wrestling only in 1966, aged 18. He then was drafted and went on to win the Soviet Armed Forces heavyweight championships in Sambo wrestling, gaining the Master of Sports degree in Sambo. He then switched to freestyle wrestling, and won 1968 RSFSR national youth championships and 1969 Soviet youth championships.

Prime yearsEdit

In 1970 he won the Soviet title competing in senior division, beating his main rival Vladimir Gulyutkin; he lost to Gulyutkin in 1971, but beat him again at the 1972 Olympic Trials and was selected for the Munich Olympics. At the Olympics he won all five bouts by fall, spending on the mat a little more than 7 minutes instead of 45.[6] Three months prior to the Olympics, he won the 1972 European Championships, winning all bouts by fall. When first appeared in the United States for the 1973 World Cup and the subsequent wrestling tour, the U.S.—Soviet Olympic freestyle wrestling exhibition, where he and the USSR National Wrestling Team met the United States National Team (composed of both National AAU, Athletes in Action and NCAA Wrestling Team Championship winners,) the American press described him as "a blue-eyed, red-haired, 24-year-old wrestler from the Soviet Union who spreads 220 pounds over an awesome, statuesque frame that might have been hammered and chiseled out of a granite block cornerstone from the Tomb of Lenin."[9][8] He was a flagbearer for the Soviet wrestling team while on the U.S. tour.[10] When Yarygin wrestled Russell Hellickson (whom he had his shoulder disclocated at their previous match-up at the Olympics,) at Hellickson's hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, Yarygin let him up to prevent further injury,[10] and wrestled just hard enough to protect himself until Hellickson finally fainted to pain.[11]

After the Olympics, he won the 1973 World Championships, again all bouts by fall. Thus Yarygin became the only wrestler to win three consecutive major competitions, scoring only fall victories. He then lost several minor contests, and decided to retire from competition, settled in his native village of Sizaya, where he worked as a lumberjack in Taiga forest. Outdoor activity helped him to regain his strength and confidence, and he came back in 1974 to continue his victorious streak. His next Olympic victory in 1976 was less spectacular because he wrestled the whole tournament with two broken ribs. After that Yarygin was selected as the Soviet Olympic flag bearer at the closing ceremony.[12]

Coming to the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for the match-up versus the American National Wrestling Team, Soviet wrestlers were welcomed officially by Mayor Walter Lisman, and were given a key to Wilkes-Barre by the mayor.[13]

Wrestling styleEdit


While preparing for the Moscow Olympics Yarygin realized that the young Soviet wrestler Ilya Mate has a better chance for the gold medal (which he indeed won). Yarygin retired from competition permanently in 1980 and became a wrestling coach. In 1982–92, he trained the Soviet freestyle wrestling team, and in 1993–1997 headed the Russian Wrestling Federation.[6] He was a key organizer of the 1997 World Wrestling Championships in Krasnoyarsk.[12]

International competition recordEdit

International competition record (incomplete)[14]
Res. Opponent Method Time/
Date Event Location Venue
1980 World Cup Winner at 100kg
Win   Larry Bielenberg Fall 1:14 1980-03-30 1980 World Cup   Toledo, Ohio Centennial Hall
Win   Wyatt Wishart N/A N/A 1980-03-28
Win   Hiroaki Obayashi N/A N/A 1980-03-28
Win   Bárbaro Morgan N/A N/A 1980-03-28
Win   Ibrahima Sarr N/A N/A 1980-03-28
Loss   Howard Harris Decision 7–8 1980-03-26 U.S.—Soviet all-star dual meet   Glens Falls, New York Glens Falls Civic Center
Win   Fred Bohna Fall 1:07 1979-04-07 Athletes in Action challenge   Anaheim, California Anaheim Convention Center
Win   1979-04 U.S.—Soviet all-star series
Olympic freestyle wrestling four-city tour
  Phoenix, Arizona
N/A   Larry Bielenberg Decision 3–10 1979-04-02   Rapid City, South Dakota Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
1979 World Cup Winner at 100kg
Win   Fred Bohna Inactivity 1979-04-01 1979 World Cup   Toledo, Ohio Centennial Hall
Win   Bárbaro Morgan N/A 1979-03-31
Win   Ahmed Hamida Fall N/A 1979-03-31
Win   Hiroaki Yamamoto Fall N/A 1979-03-31
Win   Larry Bielenberg N/A 1979-03-31
Win   John Setter[15] Fall 8:07 1979-03-28 U.S.—Soviet all-star series
Olympic freestyle wrestling four-city tour
  Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania King's College Gym
Win   1979-03-26   New York City Felt Forum
1977 World Cup Winner at 100kg
Win   Harold Smith Fall 0:27 1977-03-27 1977 World Cup   Toledo, Ohio Centennial Hall
Win   Steve Daniar Fall 1977-03-26
Win   Yoshiaki Yatsu Fall 1977-03-26
1976 Olympic Gold Medalist at 100kg
Win   Russell Hellickson Decision 19–13 1976-07-27 1976 Summer Olympics   Montreal Maurice Richard Arena
Win   Petr Drozda Tech Fall 5:30 1976-07-27
Win   Dimo Kostov Decision 16–5 1976-07-27
Win   Daniel Verník Tech Fall 1:26 1976-07-27
Win   Harald Büttner Decision 13–5 1976-07-27
1976 European Champion at 100kg
Win   Dimo Kostov N/A N/A 1976-04-18 1976 European Championship   Leningrad Yubileyny Sports Palace
Win   Mehmet Güçlü N/A N/A 1976-04-18
Win   Petr Drozda N/A N/A 1976-04-18
Win   1976-03- U.S.—Soviet all-star series
Olympic freestyle wrestling tour
  Miami, Florida
Win   Jeff Smith Fall 0:23 1976-03-04   East Lansing, Michigan Jenison Fieldhouse
1976 World Cup Winner at 100kg
Win   Greg Wojciechowski 1976-03-01 1976 World Cup   Toledo, Ohio Toledo Field House
Win   R. Sookhtsarat Decision 4–2 1976-02-29
Win   Steve Daniar N/A N/A 1976-02-29
1975 European Champion at 100kg
Win   Harald Büttner N/A N/A 1975-05-01 1975 European Championship   Ludwigshafen
Win   Dimo Kostov N/A N/A 1975-05-01
Win   Edward Żmudziejewski N/A N/A 1975-05-01
Win   Petr Drozda N/A N/A 1975-05-01
1974 European Silver Medalist at 100kg
Loss   Harald Büttner N/A N/A 1974-06-24 1974 European Championship   Madrid Palacio de Deportes
Win   1974-04-05 U.S.—Soviet all-star series
Olympic freestyle wrestling
six-city tour
  Alexandria, Virginia
Win   Jim Duschen Fall >3:00 1974-04-02   Chattanooga, Tennessee University of Tennessee Arena
Win   Buck Deadrich Fall 8:41 1974-03-30   Berkeley, California Harmon Gym
Win   Larry Amundson Fall 2:48 1974-03-27   San Diego, California Peterson Gym
Guest Soviet wrestling clinic demonstration 1974-03-23   Long Beach, California Long Beach State Gym
Win   Buck Deadrich Fall >3:00 1974-03-22 Long Beach Arena
Win   Buck Deadrich Fall 2:34 1974-03-19   New York City Felt Forum
1973 World Champion at 100kg
Win   Buck Deadrich Fall >6:00 1973-09-06 1973 World Championship   Tehran Aryamehr Indoor Stadium
Win   József Csatári Fall 1973-09-09
Win   Dimitar Nekov Fall N/A 1973-09-06
1973 World University Games Champion at 100kg
Win   Buck Deadrich N/A N/A 1973-08-15 1973 World University Games   Moscow Lenin Palace of Sports
Win   Dimitar Stankov N/A N/A 1973-08-15
Win   Henk Schenk Decision 6–3 1973-06-01 U.S.—Soviet all-star series
Olympic freestyle wrestling
four-city tour
  New York City Felt Forum
Win   Nick Curollo Fall 1:04 1973-05-30   Brockport, New York Brockport State Gym
Win   Greg Wojciechowski Decision 3–1 1973-05-26   Columbus, Ohio St. John Arena
Win   Russell Hellickson Default (9–0) >6:00 1973-05-23   Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin Field House
1973 World Cup Winner at 100kg
Win   Russell Hellickson Fall 1:56 1973-05-20 1973 World Cup   Toledo, Ohio Toledo Field House
Win   Claude Pilon Fall 0:17 1973-05-19
Win   Shizuo Yada Fall 1973-05-19
1972 Olympic Gold Medalist at 100kg
Win   József Csatári Fall 2:04 1972-08-31 1972 Summer Olympics   Munich Messe München
Win   Khorloo Bayanmunkh Fall 5:21 1972-08-31
Win   Enache Panait Fall 1:47 1972-08
Win   Abolfazl Anvari Fall 2:58 1972-08
Win   Harry Geris Fall 2:20 1972-08
Win   Gerd Bachmann Fall 2:11 1972-08
Win   Bruno Jutzeler Fall 0:27 1972-08-27
1972 European Champion at 100kg
Win   Vasil Todorov Fall N/A 1972-04-24 1972 European Championship   Katowice Spodek Arena
Win   Gerd Bachmann Fall N/A 1972-04-24
Win   Enache Panait Fall N/A 1972-04-24
1970 European Silver Medalist at 100kg
Loss   Ahmet Ayık N/A N/A 1970-06-09 1970 European Championship   East Berlin
Win   Vasil Todorov Fall N/A 1970-06-09
Win   Gerd Bachmann Fall N/A 1970-06-09
Win   Enache Panait Fall N/A 1970-06-09
Win   Karel Engel Fall N/A 1970-06-09

Death and legacyEdit

The Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber named after Yarygin

Yarygin was killed in a car crash in 1997, crashing his car into a roadside-parked heavy truck.[12] Earlier in 1990, an annual wrestling tournament in his honor has been initiated in Krasnoyarsk, the city where he lived since 1966; in 1998 a sports venue in Krasnoyarsk has been renamed into the Ivan Yarygin Sports Palace, and in March 2002 his monument was opened in the city. His other monuments were installed in Moscow in 1998, in Stavropol Krai (near the place of his death) in 2012, and in Abakan in 2013.[16] A secondary school[17] and a wrestling complex in Moscow are named after Yarygin. In 2010 Yarygin was inducted into the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame.[6]


  • Yarygin I. S. (1989) Ты выходишь на ковер. Moscow. ISBN 5-900845-02-8
  • Yarygin I. S. (1995) Суровые мужские игры. Krasnoyarsk. ISBN 5-7479-0642-9


  1. ^ a b Yarygin, Ivan (URS). iat.uni-leipzig.de
  2. ^ a b Сизую я считаю своей малой родиной. Yarygin Museum
  3. ^ United Press International (March 21, 1974). "U.S. wrestlers meet Soviets in Long Beach". Progress Bulletin: 19.
  4. ^ Associated Press (March 26, 1980). "Soviet Coach Is Optimistic". Fayetteville Northwest Arkansas Times: 22.
  5. ^ The record later was beaten by Jim Jackson, who pinned Japanese heavyweight Yasuori Ominato in 17 seconds, April 1, 1978. See: United Press International (April 2, 1978). "U.S. Leads Cup Wrestling": 47. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b c d "Ivan Yarygin". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Notes". The Post-Crescent. 16 (31): 36. August 1, 1976.
  8. ^ a b Lucas, Mike (May 23, 1973). "Soviet Matmen Land Improvement of U.S. Team". The Capital Times. 112 (138): 24.
  9. ^ Hillstrom, Eric (May 23, 1973). "Soviet Matmen Laud Improvement of US Team". Madison Capital Times: 22.
  10. ^ a b Lucas, Mike (May 24, 1973). "Mighty Soviet Matmen Whip U.S. Team, 17 to 3". The Capital Times. 112 (139): 20.
  11. ^ "Scaling a crazy mountain". Sports Illustrated. 38 (23): 94–98. June 11, 1973.
  12. ^ a b c Иван Ярыгин. Yarygin Wrestling Museum
  13. ^ Cater, Dave (March 27, 1979). "MRussian wrestlers arrive". The Times Leader: 1.
  14. ^ Details of Ivan Yarygin profile available at the United World Wrestling Database.
  15. ^ Setter was an alternate for Jeff Blatnick, who withdrew due to health issues.
  16. ^ Памятник Ивану Ярыгину в Абакане. Yarygin Museum
  17. ^ МБОУ Московская средняя школа им. Ивана Ярыгина. Yarygin Museum

External linksEdit

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Aleksandr Medved
Flagbearer for   Soviet Union (closing ceremony)
Montreal 1976 (with Vasily Alekseyev)
Succeeded by
Nikolay Balboshin