- No, I will not say that I stood out among other boys in some way. We, I remember, ran, played football, basketball, volleyball, but it seemed that way in every yard. I come from the village of Uspenka in the Krasnopolsky district in the Sumy region - there I went to first grade. School subjects began: writing, reading, arithmetic, but when we broke out of the classroom for a physical education lesson, the joy was extraordinary. Three years later, my parents moved to Kharkov, and with them my older brother Volodya and I.

It is unlikely that adults - my father (and he was a great sports fan), my mother or a school physical education teacher - saw special inclinations in me. An ordinary guy, far from an excellent student, but I had a craving for sports. Coming home from work, my father said more than once: “Instead of hanging out idle and running around the yard, it would be better to do sports, go to the stadium” ... Apparently, it sunk into my head: “I must, - I thought, - try "...

... I wanted to go to boxing and to the stadium. In addition, I studied at night school, and it was necessary to allocate time in such a way that I could be in time everywhere: after work, to lessons, from there to weightlifting classes with Mikhail Petrovich Svetlichny. He trained both young people who worked at KhTZ and older factory workers ...

- At the age of 16-17, I didn’t have any muscles, although I went to the stadium from the age of 14. He also knocked out his school friend, a housemate. "Lenya," he said, "let's go to weightlifting: it's a cool look." The clanging of iron, the impact of the barbell on the platform - for us it sounded like music, and then at the Kharkov Tractor Stadium there were demonstration performances of eminent weightlifters. They were attended by Grigory Novak, who was the first among Soviet athletes of all weight categories to become world champion, European champions Mark Rudman and Fedor Osypa. Now, probably, all this business would happen for money, but then demonstration performances were free. Mikhail Petrovich warned us: "Be sure, guys, come and see everything. I will introduce you to the famous athletes, take pictures with them as a keepsake." There was no need to persuade us - which of the boys did not dream of seeing a live world champion, saying hello to him? The demonstration performances made a huge impression on me, and since that time I systematically began to go to the weightlifting section.

He started with athletics: he threw a disc, pushed the shot. I was lucky with the coach: the boys rushed to his classes from school. When my father found out that I had enrolled in the section, he was very pleased. "From the next salary," he promised, "I will buy you and Volodya a bicycle." Of course, there was joy ... - then it was the ultimate dream!

- Those years were generally hungry, so after the eighth grade I went to work. Father determined at KhTZ - at the Kharkov Tractor. At first I was listed as an assistant, I studied turning, then I managed the machine on my own. The master will give the command - and go! By the way, our master Yury Manchenko was also a public trainer - he conducted boxing classes. To develop my shoulders and leg muscles, I put it on my neck and wound circles: a long step, slow ... I remember walking next to a two-meter fence, and on the other side was a grandmother. I saw this something, got scared: what, they say, for a man of enormous growth? And Yura told her from above: "Nothing, granny, soon we will all be like that here."

After graduating from the 10th grade - I was 18 years old - I entered the Kharkov Pedagogical Institute. By that time he was already a first-class athlete in athletics, he managed to show himself in sports, so he chose the faculty of physical training. Our dean Pavel Maksimovich Pervushin was very fond of sports and I could always turn to the chairman of the city sports committee Umar Alekseevich Akzhitov - he supported me, took care of me ...

Of course, I had a goal - to fulfill the standard of a master of sports: I did not want anything so ardently in my life. He was already a first-class player, the results went up, his weight exceeded 90 kilograms, and one day a neighbor of his mother asks: “Efrosinya Danilovna, what’s going on with your youngest son - is he sick?” - "Where did you get it from?" - "So he became so fat with you - fear." Her mother: “Lenya went in for sports. I’ll cook borscht for him - he eats. And it’s good, the guy doesn’t hang out on the streets.”

In general, this dream - to become a master of sports - did not let go, and when the championship of the Kharkov region began, I agreed with Svetlichny - and he was already a master of sports -: "Mikhail Petrovich, if I fulfill the standard of the master, you will tell me until the documents arrive and that's it the rest, will you give me your badge? So that you can come home with it?" - "Certainly!". After the competition, in the presence of all the guys, he took off his badge and fastened it to my jacket (later, of course, I returned it).

God, we were driving from the city center, from the Lokomotiv stadium, to the KhTZ area where I lived ... It was autumn, it was cool, we put on raincoats. “No,” I think, “how can it be, no one even guesses that I am already a master of sports.” It would seem that who needs it, but I wanted everyone around to see my badge. As if by chance, I threw back the left half, marked, so to speak, a silver square on the lapel ... Well, the guys, of course, paid attention, congratulated me - it was very nice.

I come home and report: "I became a master of sports." The father was surprised: "Seriously?". In response, I showed him the badge: they say, what other evidence is needed? Father was delighted:
My results really went well - what the hell is not joking? And although he still pushed the shot, he began to pay more attention to weightlifting.