Aleksandr Ivanitsky was born in Ukraine, but grew up in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where his family had fled during World War II. Ivanitsky took up wrestling in 1954 and was selected for the Soviet national team in 1961. Ivanitsky, who competed exclusively in the freestyle heavyweight class, made his international début at the 1962 World Championships, where he won a gold medal and was undefeated for the next four years until another great Soviet freestyle wrestler, Aleksandr Medved, moved up to the heavyweight division. Ivanitsky won Olympic gold in 1964 and, in addition to his 1962 World title, also won World titles in 1963 and 1965-66. Domestically, Ivanitsky won two Soviet titles (1964, 1965), four silver medals (1960, 1962, 1963, 1966) and one bronze (1961).
After finishing his sporting career, Ivanitsky worked as a sports journalist. From 1973-91 Ivanitsky was chief sports editor for the USSR State Committee on Television and Radio (Gosteleradio) that operated all the Soviet national radio and TV stations. He was also the main organizer of the broadcasts for the 1980 Olympics. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the shutdown of Gosteleradio, Ivanitsky moved to the newly created TV channel RTR, where he served as chief sports editor. Ivanitsky also wrote books and TV documentary scripts about sports and worked as a journalism lecturer with Lomonosov Moscow State University. Ivanitsky died while swimming in the river Veyna in Moskva Oblast.