A legendary Olympic champion from the Soviet Era was found dead last week.
Aleksandr Ivanitsky, a Russian freestyle wrestler who won the 1964 Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, was discovered drowned in a river after going out to collect mushrooms from a forest in the Ruza area.
Following his disappearance, a volunteer search team began looking for the 82-year-old former champion. The two-day man hunt even included police officers, divers, and a helicopter. His belongings were eventually found near a river.
“Until recently, we hoped for a miracle – but unfortunately a real tragedy has happened,” Mikhail Mamiashvili, the president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, told TASS. “This is an immeasurable loss for his family, wife, son and granddaughters. Ivanitsky belonged to the heroic people who were children of war, with a heightened sense of pride and an understanding that they represent a great victorious nation. There was a red thread running through his entire life. This feeling of colossal responsibility, understanding the country they represent, shapes people like him. This is one of the foundations of our domestic sport - particularly wrestling. This is our great heritage and a blessed memory.”
Outside of his Olympic achievements, Ivanitsky also won gold medals at the World Championships in 1962, 1963, 1965, and 1966.
Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, called Ivanitsky a “great athlete” and “wonderful person”, and Mamiashvili pledged that the federation would “certainly provide all the necessary assistance” to Ivanitsky’s family.
“The most important thing now is to support his loved ones,” Zhukov said.