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Grigory Novak

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGrigory Irmovich•Novak
Used nameGrigory•Novak
Original nameГригорий Ирмович•Новак
Born5 March 1919 in Chernobyl, Kyiv (UKR)
Died10 July 1980 in Moskva (Moscow), Moskva (RUS)
Measurements88 kg
AffiliationsDynamo Moskva, Moskva (RUS)
NOC Soviet Union
Nationality Russian Federation


Grigory Novak started to work alongside his father in building construction at a very young age. In 1933, when only 14-years-old, Novak joined the circus and acted as an acrobat and juggler until 1938, when he took a more serious interest in sports. At first, Novak tried wrestling, but soon took up weightlifting. In his first Soviet Championship in 1939, Novak won a silver in middleweight, which he turned to gold at the 1940 and 1943 Soviet Championships. In 1943, Novak switched to the light-heavyweight class and won the Soviet Championships five times (1944-1946, 1948-49). He also won the World title in the light-heavyweight category in 1946 and European title in 1947. In 1950, Novak switched his weight class again and began to compete as a middle-heavyweight. Novak won his eighth and last Soviet title in that category in 1951 and was also European champion in 1952 and won silver at the 1952 Olympics. In all, Novak set 71 world records between 1940-52, 17 of them as a middleweight (11 in press, two in snatch, two in clean and jerk and two in total), 39 as a light-heavyweight (25 in press, nine in snatch and five in total) and 15 as a middle-heavyweight (seven in press, four in snatch and four in total).

After the 1952 Olympics, Novak retired from sports and returned to the circus where he worked until his death, this time as a strongman and weight juggler. His most famous acts were lifting huge globe weights with up to six girls on top of it, lifting a platform with two cyclists riding and another strongman lifting weights on it, and lifting weights while his sons were performing acrobatic acts on it. He is also the only known circus performer to juggle with 30 and 40 kg weights.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal Nationality As
1952 Summer Olympics Weightlifting URS RUS Grigory Novak
Middle-Heavyweight, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver