Leonid Ivanovich Zhabotinsky was celebrating his 75th Anniversary.
Two time Olympic Champion (1964, 1968) in weightlifting, World Champion (1964 – 1966, 1968), European Champion (1966, 1968), five time USSR Champion (1964-1969), honored master of sports of the USSR (1964). Set 19 world records, including two world records in the total of snatch, clean & jerk, clean & press – 560 kgs (1964) and 590 kgs (1967); 20 records of the USSR, 58 records of Ukrainian SSR.
Olympic champion in weightlifting – Leonid Zhabotinsky was born on the 28th of January 1938 in a village Uspenka, Krasnopolsky district, Sumy region, Urainian SSR (now Ukraine).
In 1941 Zhabotinsky family moved to Kharkiv, where they went through Nazi occupation.
During childhood Leonid was interested in sports – boxing, wrestling, and track and field athletics. Such love for sports was planted from very childhood by his father – Ivan Philipovich who was an amateur athlete.
After finishing 7 grades of school Zhabotinsky began to work at Kharkiv Tractor Plant and tried another new sport – weightlifting.
In 1954 Leonid Zhabotinsky became a master of sports in the shot put and Bronze medalist of the Ukraine’s Championship, however very soon he decided to leave track and field to be fully dedicated to weightlifting. In this sport he made his debut in 1957 at the Ukraine Championship where he took third place (with 415 kg total in snatch, clean and jerk, clean and press).
In 1961 at the USSR Weightlifting championship held in Dnepropetrovsk Leonid lifted total 500 kg and took the second place in heavyweight division.
Very soon Leonid Zhabotinsky became the main competitor of Olympic champion and world record holder Juri Vlasov.
In 1963 Zhabotinsky made his first world record in snatch – 165 kg, joined the USSR team and became third at the World Championship in Stockholm.
In 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in famous rivalry between him and Juri Vlasov, Zhabotinsky made Olympic records in total of three lifts (517,5 kg) and snatch (167,5 kg) and made World record in clean
and jerk (217,5 kg), defeated his competitor by 2,5 kg and won a gold medal.
In 1968 at Mexico City Olympics Zhabotinsky once again left his rivals behind beating silver medalist by 17,5 kg in total of three lifts.
On the World Championship in Warsaw in 1969 during the snatch Leonid Zhabotinsky felt strong back pain and had to step out of his competition. The doctors found that in lumbar area the stone was formed. The urgent surgery was made. Surgeon had to make an incision of 34 centimeters in length and had to break ribs to remove the stone. Recovery period took four years during which Leonid had to work hard to gain his best shape. In 1973 he returned to sport, won the USSR Cup and made a world record in snatch – 183,5 kg. His last world record Leonid made in 1974 at the Moscow Championship of the Soviet Army -185,5 kg. Later during training Leonid had a knee injury –torn cartilage, followed by meniscectomy surgery. He had to finish his professional sport career. By that time Leonid Zhabotinsky had international judge certificate and became a coach of the USSR Army Forces in weightlifting.
In 1987–1991 he worked in Madagascar as a military consultant and weightlifting coach. In 1991 he retired in the rank of colonel.
Famous American actor, bodybuilder and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted that in childhood he was a fan of Soviet weightlifters and, in particular, Leonid Zhabotinsky. In 2004 Arnold Schwarzenegger invited his youth role model Leonid Zhabotinsky to the U.S.A. During their meeting Arnold told Leonid that at Tokyo Olympics he wanted Leonid to win.
Leonid Zhabotinsky is the Honorary President of the Russian Weightlifting Federation.
He is the honorary worker of Higher Professional Education of Russia, defended Ph.D. in pedagogy, professor. He was a pro-rector of the Moscow Institute of Business and Law.
In Zaporozhye, Ukraine with the support of local authorities Zhabotinsky has founded a weightlifting club “Spartacus”. He is the honorary citizen of Zaporozhye, Ukraine.
Zhabotinsky is the founder of his charity fund that has been supporting young talented athletes and helped veteran athletes to recover after injuries.
He is the founder of international weightlifting cup “Stars of Power”.
Leonid Zhabotinsky is the author of books “Steel and Heart”, “On the Olympus Top”, a large number of textbooks and numerous publications.
He was awarded by two Orders of Labor of the Red Flag, “For Service to the Fatherland” of the II degree, Order of Peter the Great (2004), Order of Ukraine “For Merits” of the II degree (2008), orders and medals of foreign countries.
Leonid Zhabotinsky is married and has two sons, Ruslan and Vilen, both sons are the masters of sports in weightlifting.