Dmitry Klokov interviewed Khadzhimurat Akkaev.
Check out Dmitry’s other interviews here.
Update 04.08.2013: Translation completed! 16100 words!
Update 11.09.2014: Read Akkaev’s 2014 Interview on ATG.
Thanks to Kirill Kazakov and Vadim Pakhutkin for translating this for all of us.
Translation of Part 1
Everything in square brackets are explanations of idioms or background info.
KLOKOV: Hello everyone. In today’s episode of “On Equal Terms” (lit.) we sit down with the Silver medalist of the Olympic Games in Athens, Bronze medalist of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the 2011 European Champion, the 2011 World Champion, and just a very charismatic guy, Khadzhimurat AKKAEV. I appreciate it that you agreed to have this talk on video; after all, many people think that you and I don’t talk at all.
I would like to remind our viewers that Khadzhimurat AKKAEV was born March 27, 1985 in the city of Nalchik, in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic [an autonomous state within Russian Federation, located in the Caucasus region, near Chechnya, and AKKAEV is an ethnic Balkar], and currently residing and training in Rostov-on-Don [a major city in the south of Russia]. By the way, why did you decide to move to Rostov?
AKKAEV: Well, some people move because of, say, marriage, but in my case, I just fell in love with the city itself. I just found the perfect city to live in. I’m very happy that I live there now. Wonderful people, and I get along with them quite well. So right now I have no plans of moving anywhere else. It’s where my heart lies, as they say.
KLOKOV: You and I are kind of always around one another, during training camps and what not, but the thing is, I don’t even know how you got into Olympic weightlifting originally. Were you doing any other sports prior to that?
AKKAEV: Well, I did some wrestling… As in all things, it takes some exploration. And I got into Olympic weightlifting because I just wanted to become physically strong and fit. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about competition results and prospects — I just thought that it would make girls like me, and that was more than enough for me. You know what I’m talking about. So back then I had no real plans for Olympic weightlifting. And as time went on, the sport has become my lifestyle, and I’m sure you can relate to that.
KLOKOV: When did you start having aspirations to become a great athlete, and ultimately, the Olympic champion? Knowing you, I assume you had your ambitions the moment you first touched the bar.
AKKAEV: Of course, any sport fosters such qualities as determination and integrity. When I first came into the gym, I could not understand what all of this was about, but when I started competing, I tasted my first defeat, which definitely hurt my ego, so I really wanted to win.
KLOKOV: Do you remember the first meet after which you said to yourself “Yeah, I’m an awesome athlete”?
AKKAEV: Yeah, it was the local competitions in my Kabardino-Balkar Republic — and those had Nation-wide status, at that — and, let’s just say that, at the time, it was quite a phenomenal performance on my part, and I definitely made a big splash.
KLOKOV: And weightlifting is quite big in Kabardino-Balkaria, right?
AKKAEV: Yeah, it’s one of the most prominent sports there.
Childhood & Upbringing
KLOKOV: What were you doing besides weightlifting, and, more importantly, how was your academic performance at the time? Because knowing him, I can assert that Khadzhimurat is a very well-educated man, because the thoughts that he conveys, and the way he conveys them, indicate that he must have been a good student indeed.
AKKAEV: Thank you. I did, in fact, perform pretty good at school, passed the exams externally, and finished high school with only 4 “B”s, all others were “A”s.
KLOKOV: And what were the “B”’s for?
AKKAEV: Algebra, geometry, chemistry, physics — that is, not “our” subjects.
KLOKOV: Not your thing? [laughs]
AKKAEV: Yeah, definitely not my thing. I aced all the humanities, and when I applied for the university—University of Economics and Law—there was the English language exam, and the woman would hand me a brochure that I was supposed to work with to prepare for the exam, but I just said “I didn’t read it, I’m ready to take the exam right away”. And she warned me that if I fail, it’s going to be hard to rebound from that. So yeah, I passed the English exam, got an “A”.
[5 minute mark]
KLOKOV: Well yeah, you do like English…
AKKAEV: I guess I could have become a scholar, if things went that way, although I doubt it.
KLOKOV: You exhibit this interesting mix of class and cheekiness in relations with your teammates, your peers. Is this a character trait, or the way you were raised by parents?
AKKAEV: I’d say cheekiness is a trait of the Caucasus ethnicities in general. It’s in our blood. As for me, yes, it’s in my blood as well, but at the same time, I’m a just and fair person. So if I treat someone harshly, there’s solid reasoning behind it. I never do anything without a reason. Sure, sometimes I can be a hot head, just like anyone else.
KLOKOV: But how were you raised? Was there a certain way you were expected to behave?
AKKAEV: I had a rather liberal upbringing, parents never really prohibited anything. They trusted our judgment from early age — they let us live the way we wanted to, and whenever we did something wrong, they would tell us about it. And since we weren’t foolish, we understood everything, and eventually developed as personalities, the way we are right now.
KLOKOV: In your childhood, were you a calm kid, or a troublemaker? Did you fight in school?
AKKAEV: Oh yeah, I sure did. No fight would be complete without me. [Both laugh] We fought on a regular basis, we beat others, and others beat us… Well you know, schoolchildren are the most vicious and violent lot, they fight ruthlessly. Total mayhem. And I wasn’t much different; not to mention that it’s a normal way of things for Caucasus children, so it only made sense that I was aggressive.
KLOKOV: Do you agree with my opinion—one that I expressed numerous times on TV and in the press — that you are the most talented weightlifter of modern-day Russia?
AKKAEV: I gotta tell you, Dima, that in this regard you deserve much respect. I mean, you and I have always competed fiercely, all the way since we started lifting in this weight class… getting so carried away in this “race” that we’ve paid the price with our health and all that. So I have much appreciation and respect for you. But back to your opinion: I don’t know, really. We have many promising lifters in Russia, and I’m just doing my job, and I’ve always tried to be as diligent as possible. So I don’t know… I guess, other people are better judges of whether I’m really promising or not. What I can say, however, is that—I don’t know if that was covered in media—that even to this day, you are hands-down my most worthy adversary of all those I’ve ever competed against.
KLOKOV: I’ve read that.
AKKAEV: You have?
KLOKOV: Of course.
AKKAEV: I say this with all honesty.
KLOKOV: But how do you view this statement? As flattery? Respect?..
AKKAEV: As honesty, candor. Yes. I believe in this. I believe in your honesty.
About the 2011 World Championships
KLOKOV: By the way, I would like to remind our viewers that after winning of the 2011 World Championship in Paris, Khadzhimurat Akkayev was named the Best Lifter of the Year by the primary weightlifting journal “World Weightlifting”. This obviously corroborates my opinion on Khadzhimurat’s talent and achievements. [to Akkayev] What did this recognition bring you? How did you feel about it? Because I’m sure any lifter would love to have this… what did they give you, a cup?
2011 Worlds Akkaev vs Klokov
AKKAEV: Yeah, a cup and [unintelligible]
KLOKOV: How did you first find out about it? What were your emotions when they called you? Pride? Because it occurred to me that if you hadn’t jerked 232 that day [Akkayev snickers], it would have been me receiving this prize… and I was, like, damn! That would have been cool! Obviously, Olympic champion title is the most prized one, but whatever else we have there—European titles and all that—this junk is something many people have. Now, becoming the BEST LIFTER of the world—granted, of a single year, but still— sure, it can’t compare to Rigert’s amazing title of the Best Lifter of the Century, but we’re never going to reach his level, because classic is classic, you know? So yeah, it was cool. How did you react to it?
[10 MINUTE MARK]
AKKAEV: Well, at that time, both you and I were in a certain state of euphoria. [Klokov says “yes”] And then this title… Of course I’m grateful to everyone involved. I’m sure this interview will be seen by our friends in America, and other countries, who voted and rooted for me, and I appreciate that a lot. At the time, though, I was obsessed with getting the Olympic gold…
KLOKOV: And this title boosted your confidence, didn’t it?
AKKAEV: I saw this world recognition as a responsibility, of sorts. You know? Accountability before the people. People who believe in you, vote for you. I don’t have a lot of senior competitions under my belt… basically, when I first went to that senior Worlds, which turned out to be quite a success—
KLOKOV: That’s quite a first trip! I also won my first World Championship… I went to Worlds like 6 times, but won only once. Khadzhimurat went to his first, and coincidentally won his first at the same time.
AKKAEV: Well, I guess that was my last trip to the World Championship…
KLOKOV: Who knows…
AKKAEV: Yeah, who knows… agreed. So yeah, of course it was a blast, but I think that it’s going to take me a long time to fully recognize the value of this title. I haven’t been thinking about it too much yet, and of course in future we’re probably going to remember all of our titles as something awesome. Some people sacrifice their lives to sport and achieve nothing, but you and I, we have pretty much identical titles, so we both have much to remember.
Evolution of his Training
KLOKOV: Now let’s go back in time, to the very distant year 2004: preparation for the Athens Olympics. You were then coached by Soltan Osmanovitch Karakotov, a very talented coach, a good person, and, in my opinion, a real man — I think, you will agree, he’s always been like that, a fighter. Of course he was undeservingly dismissed from coaching the Russian women’s national weightlifting team, following the London Olympics… I would like to remind our audience that Soltan Karakotov was one of the pioneers of the women’s weightlifting in Russia, from its very inception, and this was so long ago that Khadzhimurat and I were still peeing our pants when it happened. But anyway, during preparations for 2004 Olympics, you were a 94 kg lifter who showed great results: in training you were snatching 195 and clean & jerking 230. I remember coming to you guys in Podolsk [a city near Moscow; used to have a weightlifting training facility], and being very impressed with you when they told me about you. So, after achieving such lofty results with him, getting the Silver medal in Athens, why did you stop working with Karakotov?
AKKAEV: Originally I started training under his supervision in 2002—
KLOKOV: In Ruza [a small town outside Moscow]
AKKAEV: Yes, in Ruza, with the womens national team. So, back then maybe my previous training system with Makhty [Makhty Makkaev is Akkaev’s first and current coach] wasn’t up to par. Makhty was a young coach back then, so maybe he was doing something wrong. Soltan Osmanovitch took me under his wing and helped—
KLOKOV: Makhty back then was still learning, right?
AKKAEV: Yes-yes. So he [Karakotov] started coaching me, alongside Makhty. So the core training was developed solely by Karakotov. Then again, Makhty has been with me since the very beginning, teaching me for 10 years, so of course he has a better connection with me. Then Karakotov took over and maybe the connection wasn’t exactly right. He was definitely challenging me a lot in training. And at the time I was being studied by scientists in the institutes—
KLOKOV: So they already had big plans for you?
sports scientists decided that I best benefited from heavy singles workAKKAEV: Of course. They were making sure I’m well prepared for the Olympics. So the sports scientists had been studying me thoroughly, and came to the conclusion that strength and assistance work-focused training is not the best option for me. They decided that I best benefited from heavy singles work and—
KLOKOV: So basically, the way you train right now — competition lifts and a very limited amount of strength training — is best suited for you, and this was decided back then by Karakotov, right?
AKKAEV: Yes, exactly. And since then there have been some negative events happening—
[15 MINUTE MARK]
KLOKOV: By the way, as everyone knows, you had a falling out with Karakotov — what caused this, and what are your currents relations like?
AKKAEV: Well, as in every family, conflicts are inevitable. To be honest, to this day I’m still not sure why Soltan Osmanovitch held a grudge against me…
KLOKOV: He still holds it?
AKKAEV: No-no, it’s long over now, we keep in touch, exchange pleasantries, and all that. Everything’s fine now. I’m not 19 anymore. And today he understands it and we get along perfectly fine. But the original conflict I still don’t understand, but hey, if the whole thing disappeared on its own, then I’m glad, who cares. And look, I often quarrel with Makhty as well—
After the Athens 2004 Olympics
KLOKOV: Yeah, we’re going to cover Makhty later. When you had your falling out with Karakotov, and you stopped working together, I’d say 90% of the weightlifting community was convinced that it was because you got carried away with your stardom. Of course, at 19 years old, getting all this hype, fame, money… and then considered a very luxurious car, Mercedes S-500, with plates that read “777 – 07 – HAU”, and you joked that the letters stand for “Khadzhimurat Akkaev – ‘attaboy!” [“U” is “supposed” to stand for “умница”, which is Russian for “attaboy”, “good boy”, “well done”] [both laugh] Girls must have liked it, eh?
But jokes aside, was this really a stardom complex? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that — you were 19, after all. All these shenanigans are better left for teen years, because obviously after Beijing they wouldn’t have let it slide anymore. So what was it?
AKKAEV: First off, I come from a rather wealthy family, so I’m used to getting expensive gifts; my parents would always give me everything I need. So I was basically ready for this part, but the way I was rewarded after the Olympics was something I couldn’t even dream of.
KLOKOV: That all of this was your own…
AKKAEV: Yeah, my own, something I’ve actually earned. But the thing is, I was aware of the fact that any little slip-up would be used against me. For example, if I passed someone important by while driving my new car, and didn’t greet him, that’s it — they’d think that I’m arrogant and don’t know my place.
KLOKOV: So you took this part seriously back home?
AKKAEV: Oh, definitely. I would stop my car, come up to this guy, we would shake hands — even though it could be some person I don’t know or care about, but I just had to make sure that people knew that I’m not on some ego trip. Of course, I wasn’t too successful at that, because people still talked about it. I didn’t like it and it made my life harder. And even to this day— well, right now it’s not as relevant, of course, but still. I often hear people say to me “hey, I’ve heard so many bad things about you, but this is not really the case, is it?”. Well, there you go. Oh well, if they talk about me, then I guess I’m a popular person.
KLOKOV: If they spit at you behind your back, it means you’re ahead of them.
KLOKOV: But how did you act after the Olympics? I mean, some get more isolated after that, keep to themselves, stay within the team circle more. Perhaps, you kept a low profile, not showing off some things you had received… or you acted like a rockstar?
AKKAEV: Like a rockstar of course!
KLOKOV: So you had to experience it all at the age of 19?
AKKAEV: Definitely. This was a learning process for me. Beijing was basically nothing special, I performed the same way, and for my people [ethnic Balkars] it wasn’t as amazing — after Athens, I was the first ever Olympian among Balkars! — and I mean historically all-time first! Can you imagine? Anyone would get big-headed after that! There was no way to walk around the streets — people carry you in their arms, worshipping you… It’s too much not just for a 19 year old kid, but for any adult out there! So back then that’s how I acted — it’s not to say that I was arrogant or anything, but I just enjoyed life so much.
AKKAEV: Positive, yes. And after Beijing, despite the fact that I had a similar performance, I contained myself a lot more.
[20 MINUTE MARK]
KLOKOV: Well, you were older.
AKKAEV: Yes, I matured. And I treated things like stipends differently. I treated people differently as well. Because after Athens I had a string of events—both positive and negative— and I matured early. I was able to understand people and life better. So after Beijing, I had similar events, but my attitude had changed. My mentality had changed, I had become more mature. Today I’m even more different. At 19 I thought that I knew it all, and today I laugh at my older self.
KLOKOV: You drove that “Batmobile”, your Mercedes S-500, when you were 19, obviously eager to go fast, and you definitely don’t hesitate to rev it up. I’m sure cops stop you very often. How do you get along with them?
AKKAEV: Well, they don’t stop me all that much anymore, because I don’t go over the limit anymore. But back then I used to drive fast, yeah… But regardless, athletes are always respected. There’s no need to get out of the car, and get all cocky and pretend you’re important, saying that you’re going to call somebody…
KLOKOV: Yeah, you said it right: athletes don’t have to make a big deal out of themselves. For instance, if a businessman has made money, he needs to show it. Buy something, drive something… In athlete’s case it’s different: people watch them on TV, and that’s all you need — people have seen what you can lift, and that’s enough.
AKKAEV: That’s why there’s respect for athletes. They stop you, you say “Guys, I’m sorry I did something wrong”. I never paid tickets or anything like that…
KLOKOV: By the way, I’ve heard rumors that you have “the papers”, an officer rank…
I’m in the database, listed as a Police CaptainAKKAEV: Sure I have it, given to me as a gift. Those are real papers, they were given to me by a general… I’m not going to name names, of course. But yeah, I’m in the database, listed as a Police Captain…
KLOKOV: And that big scar on your back—
AKKAEV: Oh, you’ve heard about it too?
KLOKOV: Of course! Huge scar that you allegedly received while on duty…
AKKAEV: This came in handy! I don’t use it all that much, only couple of times. When they didn’t care about my papers, I had to show my scars as proof. But hey, as long as it helps, right?
About His Family
KLOKOV: You are known to have a soft spot for expensive fast cars, exquisite Italian suits and other luxury items. How did you come to like all this? You already mentioned that your parents gave you the best things. So is this your parents who influenced you to have this penchant for *quality* items— I mean, the word “expensive” often has a connotation of pretentiousness— but we’re talking about expensive in the sense that it’s high-quality items. So was this parents’ influence?
AKKAEV: Well, yeah, we were raised in an affluent environment… Our parents were making good money, often traveling abroad, brought us goods from there…
KLOKOV: Quality over quantity?
AKKAEV: Yes. However, my mindset was not directly formed by my parents, it’s not the upbringing… because as you know, I have been away from family since I was 15, going to training camps and what not, which pretty much meant that I couldn’t see my family often, so I developed on my own. I am grateful to Allah for this opportunity in life to do what I love doing, and at the same time wear what I love wearing, drive what I love driving… I’ve been trying different things, searching for my thing, and I found it.
KLOKOV: What I can attest to is that even in everyday life, Khadzhimurat is very organized: his car is always squeaky clean, his rooms are tidy, his things are sorted and where they’re supposed to be, training clothes are always fresh and clean; as you’ve seen in the video of Khadzhimurat’s room I posted earlier: weightlifting shoes are neatly placed with snow-white socks tucked in them. So it’s evidently not just for show, but a trait of his character, which is very cool, in my opinion. Can’t help but envy your self-discipline, as few people have it.
How many cars did you have? Ever tried to count them?
AKKAEV: Oh, no I haven’t counted… At first I would change them very often, but nowadays I don’t do that, different mindset now. I got my good new car and I’m content with it.
KLOKOV: What car do you own right now?
AKKAEV: Oh, Infiniti FX50.
KLOKOV: “Oh” just Infiniti FX50… [laughs]
KLOKOV: What do your parents think about your career? They’ve been giving you money, clothes, and now you’re still only working as a weightlifter, which involves a lot of expenses, naturally. Are they now trying to tell you that money should be invested elsewhere?
AKKAEV: I used to have wishes that were rather unrealistic, but those wishes could still be materialized. And I would turn to my mother, and seek her permission and blessing. If she gives it, then I know it’s all good. If I’m wondering whether or not I should spend 600,000 Rubles (~18,000 USD) on a cellphone, I just call my mom and go “Look, I really want it and I can’t help it”, and she’s like “Of course dear, go ahead and buy it”, and that’s it!
KLOKOV: [To viewers] You know what to do folks! Call your moms and tell them that you want a phone that costs 600,000 Rubles. [Both laugh]
AKKAEV: If mom says you can buy it, you have to buy it. And ever since I was a child, I would ask my mom if I can have something. And *not once* has she told me “no”. Never said that “you can’t afford that” or anything like that. If you want it, get it. Live the way you want. Enjoy life. Have a good time, be positive, smile a lot. This is what both parents have been telling me all along. We, athletes, don’t even make this kind of money to afford a cellphone like that. But when I call my mother, she doesn’t care if I have that kind of money, she just tells me that I can have it, if I want to.
KLOKOV: So you might not even have enough money to afford it, but she still gives you the green light, right?
AKKAEV: Most important thing is that she gave me her blessing to do so, that’s all that matters…
KLOKOV: And after that you start saving to be able to afford it.
AKKAEV: Yeah, I’m saving, and looking for ways to buy the damn thing.
KLOKOV: The way you describe your parents, I can’t help but respect them a lot — not often do you see parents who are this way. Most of the time they are old-school and strict, who obviously lived in the USSR and have certain stereotypes. You know, collecting all their money in glass jars, hiding those under the bed, and the more jars you have, the more stable and happy your life is! Who are your parents, what is or was their occupation?
AKKAEV: Mom was a merchandise manager her entire life. And my father graduated from Leningrad Art Academy, he is an artist. Of course, today there is no demand for his occupation, but nevertheless… he can work as a jeweler and in other capacities. And back in the early 90s, my father bought a department store for my mother — bought it at an auction. As I was saying, they were making good money. So they ended up running businesses — shops, department stores and the like. Right now they are retired, so their business functions were delegated to my brother and I. So we help out, everything’s good, thank God.
KLOKOV: You mention your brother… How many siblings do you have?
AKKAEV: One elder brother, he owns a construction company, makes good money too, helps me out.
KLOKOV: What’s your age difference with him?
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AKKAEV: One year.
KLOKOV: And a sister?
AKKAEV: Yes, I have a sister too, younger.
KLOKOV: Where is she now?
AKKAEV: She graduated from the Tourism and Service Institute, and she lives with parents, as is customary in Caucasus.
KLOKOV: They all live there?
AKKAEV: Yes. Also, Caucasian traditional laws dictate that a younger son must remain with parents—
KLOKOV: But you’re the youngest.
[30 minute Mark]
AKKAEV: Well, here’s the thing: it so happens that I’m an athlete, and my family believes in me, and all that. My brother was studying at the Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow, but he decided to leave his studies to return to live with parents, so I could do my thing… that was when I participated in the Olympic Games and all that…
KLOKOV: So by the rules, there has to be someone guarding the family household, right?
AKKAEV: Yes, one of the sons has to remain at parents’ home.
KLOKOV: Is this a Balkar thing?
AKKAEV: No, it’s this way in Caucasus in general. Such is the custom.
Klokov: I’d like to ask about your friends. Who are they and what place do they hold in your life? Does he, Khadzhimurat Akkaev, have any friends?
Akkaev: As Pushkin [Alexander Pushkin, prominent Russian poet] used to say, “Acquaintances aplenty, but lack a single friend”. That’s not quite my case of course, but I do believe that a friend is your reflection, someone who would give his life for you. Of all our mutual acquaintances Asik Mediev is the one. He’s a time-tested comrade-in-arms, a friend, a brother. We’ve known each other for 12 years and haven’t got a single quarrel to the date. We still stick to each other.
Klokov: I would’ve never thought so.
Akkaev: Well he’s one of the few close friends of mine.
Klokov: I perceive you as kind of person, who believes his own opinion about anything to be the ultimate truth. This may be a misconception, I admit. Can Asik Mediev be the kind of person, capable of influencing your opinion?
Akkaev: This might have been true about five-year-ago version of me. Today? I think, not. We grow up, we mature, we learn to see the essence of things. To me it’s important to make sure that this thing is right for me, and me alone.
Klokov: And who’s to judge?
Akkaev: But I can tell right from wrong, huh? Certainly, before taking any action, I’d gather a sort of close council.
Akkaev: Yeah, council of those close to me: my parents, my brother, closest friends. First I listen to everyone, then act. More often than not, I listen to everyone and still do things my own way.
Klokov: Let me remind my viewers that Khadzhimurat Akkaev has two university degrees, so he actually has grounds to consider his opinion decisive. While we’re still at it, could you tell us about your education?
Akkaev: Just as any weightlifter in this country I’ve graduated from Kursk State Technical University.
Klokov: I’ve heard about it.
Akkaev: Everyone studies there. Ivanov is just one example, and there are many others.
Klokov: That’s the first degree, right?
Akkaev: Yes, and the second one is the degree in economics Kuban State University. That was a peer pressure thing though, everyone went to study economics, so did I. In the meanwhile I felt that law was my kind of thing instead.
Klokov: Do you plan to study law then?
Akkaev: You see, I don’t think that education that person gets has a significant impact on his life. Practice and experience do though.
Klokov: I agree with that.
Akkaev: You can teach a bear to ride a bicycle, it’s just a matter of time and effort.
Klokov: Indeed. I think that you’d agree that there are two kind of people: book-smart and street-smart, so to say. The first kind is more about academic knowledge, the second one has the hunch, an ability to adapt and overcome difficulties.
Akkaev: That’s true.
Klokov: Let’s talks about your principal coach Makkaev Makhty Hasanovich. How did you meet him?
Akkaev: I met him when I first came to a weightlifting gym. I remember this moment clearly: him, sitting on a bench…
Klokov: What brought you there anyway? Do you just wanted to pump some iron?
Akkaev: Yes, exactly.
Klokov: And you’ve never met him before?
Akkaev: Never. I’ll tell you more. During the first two months I’ve been constantly forgetting his name. It sounded unfamiliar and just didn’t stick. Whenever I was asked about my coach, I had to call my friend and ask: “Look, what’s the coach’s name was? Ma…Makh…Makhty?”
Akkaev: So, he was sitting on a bench and I was like: “I’d like to train”. And he said: “Well, change and let’s start”. And that’s how it was. It’s been 18 years since then.
Klokov: 18 years? A lot of time…
I’ve started at 10Akkaev: Yeah, I’ve started at 10.
Klokov: But I don’t think that it is still a coach-athlete relationship, no?
Akkaev: Of course, it’s not. We’re close friends now. Our families are on friendly terms. Another close friend of mine is Japuev Magomed. We’re on the same terms with him, as with Makhty.
Klokov: Is it the guy, who comes with you to the training camps to support you?
Akkaev: It’s him. And his support stretches far beyond sports. When weightlifting wasn’t part of my life (there were such times) he was by my side. The most important thing is a person’s attitude to you in your times of trouble.
Klokov: I can totally confirm that. He once again reaffirmed his attitude during the current “crisis” with the injury on the verge of London Olympics. I know, however, that after the championship in Athens, your relationship with him deteriorated a bit as well. What happened?
Akkaev: He’s an ambitious man, too, you see.
Klokov: And his ambitious are not hollow words. He has some significant achievements to back them.
Akkaev: True. I think, he was slightly offended by my lack of attention to him. This, the general weariness, things were summing up and then brought to a conflict.
Akkaev: And it lasted for quite a time. A year and half or so. We were seeing each other, talked a little, but never mentioned sports.
Klokov: I’ve always known him as a very dedicated, purposeful and selfless person. I remember him bringing a dozen of young athletes to banya [Russian type of sauna, with a lot of steam and humidity, it is considered crucial for athletes’ recovery and has always being popular among Russian sportsmen, especially weightlifters], hitting them with veniks [essentially, branches of trees, birch or oak usually — this procedure improves blood circulation tremendously and is akin to massage in some ways], and massaging them afterwards. Never leaving banya himself, it seemed that he could endure the temperatures and humidity forever. Could you tell us about what kind of person he is?
Akkaev: Well, you’ve just described him perfectly. Selfless and willing to do everything for the sportsmen he’s in charge of.
Klokov: What brought him to weightlifting?
Akkaev: In the middle 80s, and up to 90s probably, two groups were the most developed in Tyrnyauz [town in Kabardino-Balkar Republic]: weightlifting and Greco-Roman wrestling. He was a competing wrestler.
Klokov: Let me interrupt you for a second. I’ve seen a footage of him, it is dated 1996 I think, at the national selection to Olympic Games in Atlanta. After what you’ve just told me I start to understand why his technique was quite weird. So that’s the wrestling legacy.
Akkaev: Yes, this must be it. In fact, I don’t know his sports biography in details. But we were growing up side by side and I could see the my own traits in him: his character, dedication, commitment.
Akkaev: I’ve been trying to extract some lessons from his experience. I doubt that he was doing the same. He’s the kind of person, who needs other to listen to his opinion, to believe him. And he’s known to be one of the best-qualified coaches in the country. If he starts to coach a sportsman, an entire country would know that he would bring him to a substantial result. I’ve heard that many wrestlers approached him, promising him incredible salaries for training them. Take Kura-Magomedov for instance — he got the bronze, being unable to handle the psychological pressure, but his conditioning was beyond any praise. Makhov, Khushtov — these are people he trained, let alone the weightlifters. Take Aslan Bideev, for instance. He was striding around training camps and gyms in Moscow, almost homeless. Makhty picked him up. After that he won the Russian Weightlifting Cup, got bronze in Europe.
Klokov: Even given his genetics.
Akkaev: Even so, yes. He has no prospects at all. He told me that himself “How could I, ungifted Bideev won the Cup?!” You just need to have faith in yourself and Makhty and work hard. That’s just one example. Or take Sabanchiev — can you believe that he is the Russian champion *gesticulates in disbelief* ?
Klokov: Sabanchiev took me over at the Russian Championship.
Akkaev: Yes! Sabanchiev taking over Klokov at the Russian Championship. I’ve never imagined that was physically possible! Anyone, but not Klokov. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes! *grasps his head*
Akkaev: That’s entirely Makhty’s achievement
Klokov: Makhty often takes over Klokov family. That’s a person whose opinion you’d better heed. Man, we’re about to develop a Makhty syndrome. Anyhow, I know that you’ve been friends with Dmitry Lapikov for quite a time. You’ve been paying visits to each other. Moreover, he even lived at your place for a while. What brought the two of you together? We’ve been saying, you and I, that we are different. But neither do I see any common features between you and Dima.
Akkaev: We’ve met in 2001 in Ruza. He came as a member of a junior national team I think. And I was a bit of wild thing, having recently descended from my mountainous motherland.
Klokov: So was he. A bit of a wild thing.
Akkaev: That was it I think. Two wildlings meeting each other. We’ve “figured each other out” so to say. That was when our friendship started.
Klokov: Well that was absolutely Caucasian-esque. People from Caucasus, having come to a big city, they stick together and conquer the world together.
Akkaev: Only that we didn’t try to conquer the world, we were just friends. Years passed and I think his views have changed. There has never been a quarrel or a fight between us, it’s just that…our ways have parted. Each of us has stuck to his own outlook.
Klokov: So you just don’t hang out together?
Akkaev: No, we’re not rivals, not enemies. Just different people with different world views.
Klokov: What would you say about Dima in general — as a person and as a sportsman.
Akkaev: He’s good guy. A decent and honest person. This is important, these days people whom you can call “decent” are fewer and fewer. He’s a reliable friend. He has never brought me down.
He always supported me, always took my side. And I responded with the same. I think he would be just as good a business partner, as he was a friend. I won’t change my mind about that, regardless of our attitude to each other.
Klokov: And as an athlete?
I can’t train as much as you do. 30-40 minutes and that’s it. I’m a dead body.Akkaev: Well the history be my witness, he has an interesting biography. I wouldn’t say that he’s the most gifted and outstanding athlete there ever was, but thanks to a really dedicated hard work and natural abilities he has achieved some good results. I can say the same about you. I can’t train as much as you do. 30-40 minutes and that’s it. I’m a dead body. And when Makhty says “we have to add a few plates”, I tell him “you’re going to kill me”, but he only laughs.
Klokov: Well, that’s the way it is in weightlifting. You are either gifted or you work really hard.
Akkaev: That’s true about weightlifting. In wrestling I can single out Buvaisar Saitiev.
Klokov: Is he a hard worker?
Akkaev: Quite the contrary. I don’t know, maybe some time back then has made a certain foundation of his training. When I was hanging out with the national wrestling team, the guys told me that he never trains as they do. It’s truly a divine talent to just come at whatever tournament and win it.
On Getting Along with the Team
Klokov: I’ve already mentioned that your audacity is a part of Caucasian mentality. In the national team we often tease each other, and some of your jokes are quite biting, some of them hurt. Not all the members can stand it. We had no fights of course…
Akkaev: Of course not, it is a small family.
Klokov: Don’t you fear some backfire? Some mean trick from them? Of course, it has to be an inclination to mean things in a person, but you know how it is with wounded animals: a bear, a bull or a wild boar. Even being shot it may still cause some damage.
Akkaev: If I don’t feel that we have any sort of amicability or friendliness among us — that may not necessarily be a close friend of mine, but still someone with whom we’re at good terms — I would not let myself make caustic jokes on him. Let alone with a person I barely know. As for people, who can bear some sort of grudge, I also try the situation on myself. Like that one time I had some tensions with Gleb Pisarevsky. I’ve always approached him saying “Gleb, you’re such an unpleasant character!” And that has become a catchphrase among the national team athletes. And once I met him at the massage room, and I’ve said the same thing to him…
Akkaev: Yes. And he knew it was a joke I think, just was in a bad mood. He’s a nice guy. We’re still at good terms with him. And he said: “Look, Khadzhimurat, if I’m unpleasant, then don’t talk to me and that would be it”.
Klokov: So that’s the recipe against your jokes, just tell you straight away that they are slightly offensive.
Akkaev: Sure! And the guys from the national team did just that. Chingiz Mogushkov certainly did. I’ve been joking about him being unfit. I mean he’s a huge guy, weighs almost 200 kg, I just couldn’t hold it in me.
Klokov: Yeah, but if that joke finds him in a bad mood, YOU will be in trouble *laughs*
Akkaev: I guess. So well, it’s better to tell me straight away if you don’t like my jokes. As for some tricks, dirty or otherwise, I don’t expect them, since I don’t consider my jokes THAT offensive. And if I’ll see that a person’s attitude changed, I’d be the first to come to him and apologize for an unintentionally mean joke. During the years that I live here in Russia I’ve learned the local customs. I remember my Caucasian upbringing too, e.g. respect for the elders, etc.; but I try to do in Rome as Romans do, so to say.
Klokov: Well, that’s the main reproach usually addressed to Caucasians in Russia — them trying to dictate their own rules.
Akkaev: I agree, and I try to avoid it. But I can explain why it happens. 100% of Caucasian population is like that — they’re self-confident, they’re into sports since the salad days and this behavior is in their blood. But living in Rostov I often meet my compatriots, I hang out with them. And I can tell you one thing: if a person is a great wrestler or a fearsome fighter, he’ll be quiet as a mouse and humbler than dust. And if it’s some…
Akkaev: Yeah, someone like that, some poser — he will go around starting trouble and stuff. As simple as that. And although true Caucasians don’t pay a slightest bit of attention to them — “the dog barks, the caravan keeps moving” is the saying — they create a stereotypical image of Caucasians.
Klokov: That story with your failed doping test…
About Failing a Doping Test
Akkaev: When was it? 2005?
Klokov: I guess so. Do you think that this might be exactly the kind of a mean trick played on you by someone from the national team? You know better than me, that these situation happen in the big sports. There will always be some low-life willing to spoil your life. And that, as I’ve told before, is the meanest thing that one sportsman can ever do to another.
Akkaev: It is. Any trick coming from those you’ve held as your teammates is a sucker punch…
Klokov: True. But when you train side by side with someone, who keeps on going and training hard day by day, despite the circumstances, despite the injuries, old and new… And you know that if you set him up, if you mess with his doping test, you will probably ruin his career and, perhaps, his life and STILL you proceed with that. Man, I don’t what kind of person that must be…
This was indeed an insider’s jobAkkaev: I don’t think it was someone from the team. I just don’t want to believe in that. Although…at that time President of the Federation was receiving anonymous letters, claiming that Akkaev has created — and I quote— “a gang” within the national team! Mind that I was probably the youngest member of the team at the moment. The very content of these letters was silly — an idea that I will conspire with some teammates against others doesn’t stand up to any criticism, not to anyone aware of the actual relations and atmosphere in the national team. I’ve been a light-minded and somewhat naughty kid for all my life and I think that I’ve remained the same. Remembering the entire doping scandal…no I don’t think it was someone from the team. But yes, this was indeed an insider’s job. This story got into the media, the President of the Federation was making apologies and stuff. This was clearly ordered by someone.
Klokov: Not a mistake of a lab technician, perhaps?
Akkaev: This was not a mistake. It’s not a big secret, who benefitted from that story, but I’m not going to blame anyone now. I am not a person, who washes dirty linen in public. It was an insider’s job and let it stay such.
Klokov: We won’t touch the sensitive issue of doping. This subject was a taboo for a long time, and it’s not for me to break this habit. But speaking of your training, what sports supplements (brands and particular types) do you prefer? Because people keep asking me in the YouTube comments, what amino acids and what kind of creatine do I take. You must have your own favorites, I reckon.
Akkaev: I just use the stuff they allot to us at the national team pharmacy. I don’t buy anything on my own.
Klokov: So you’re not into sports nutrition or supplements.
Akkaev: Nah, I don’t really know much about those things. There are people in the team, who know as much as an experienced pharmacist. Me, though? I don’t know a thing about it. I take whatever my coach brings me.
Klokov: I see. We all know that diet is an essential component of our success. What’s your diet or nutrition plan? You know that I used to weigh 117-120 kg AFTER the workout and when we were training for the World Championship in Paris I’ve taken the risk of switching to another diet. For instance, I eat red meat once in 10 days. Sports nutritionists advised me to switch it for tuna. I eat a lot of grains, etc. Do you have a special diet? You’re always as fit as possible, 108 kg on the dot. In order to able to fit expensive clothes *laughs*
Akkaev: No, I’m not picky when it comes to food. I eat whatever they serve us at the cafeteria.
Klokov: Favorite food?
Akkaev: There’s no such thing. It probably depends on how hungry I am. By the way, speaking of body weight… You said that yours was around 116-117. This April mine was approximately the same, about 116.
Klokov: YOU DID?! *In disbelief* [58:18] I can’t imagine that.
Akkaev: But I did. I stepped on the scales in the morning and there it was.
Klokov: Do you have a picture?
Akkaev: There was…somewhere.
Klokov: How was it?
Akkaev: Bad. Really bad. I couldn’t train, I even had breathing problems. I was thinking: “Damn, how can Klokov even manages to come gym with this weight, let alone training like that…” I couldn’t imagine how can you train as hard as you do, and THEN train some more to lose weight.
Klokov: Did you weigh yourself before or after the workout?
Akkaev: Before. Right in the morning.
Klokov: A-ha. For me it was 116 AFTER the workout. A really intense one. And I train all dressed up to lose more weight and usually lose 3-4 kg per workout. And still the scales show 116 after all this! So you stand there thinking whether you should skip the lunch today.
When I don’t train, my normal weight is 104kgAkkaev: But I’ve lost it without any particular effort. It has just gone by itself. Bow, however, I keep track on that and don’t let it go higher than 109. When I don’t train, my normal weight is 104.
Klokov: So you must be wearing the sizes like 54-56?
Klokov: That’s the size that most of Italian brands offer! When I was in some fancy shop and asked for a shirt, I was unable to put my arm through the sleeve. I’ve always had huge arms and it always was pain in the ass with shirts. That’s why Khadzhimurat was always telling me: “I don’t want to move to 105 category, since I would have to throw away all my classy clothes!”
Do you cook?
Akkaev: I’ve learnt to cook some things since I’m single.
Klokov: You live alone in Taganrog now, right? Do you cook for yourself?
Akkaev: I do. I can make macaroni “navy-style” [popular dish in Russia, basically spaghetti or macaroni with ground meat and tomatoes]. I can’t cook fancy dishes though, I wouldn’t be able to cook borscht.
No one comes to my place. I am a neat pedantic personKlokov: And when your friends come over, do you cook for them?
Akkaev: No one comes to my place, in fact. I am a neat pedantic person, we’ve discussed that. It buggers me to see someone’s shoes scattered all over my corridor. And all the dirty dishes… So when my friends call me and say that they’d like to come over, I am like: “No-no-no, let’s meet someplace downtown. I’ll be there in a moment”.
Translation of Part 2
Klokov: Basically we both spend 10 months a year at various training camps. What would you say about their level in general? Particularly, about the meals?
Akkaev: The best camp (and the victory in the industry contest proves my point) is the one in Taganrog [coastal city in South of Russia]
Klokov: The best? When it comes to meals, you mean?
Akkaev: When it comes to everything: meals, training, etc.
Klokov: What is that contest you’ve mentioned, by the way?
Akkaev: There was a nationwide contest among the catering enterprises, catering at training and sports camps I mean. And the one in Taganrog won it. Why do I say that it is the best? You’re aware that during the training psychological aspect is very important…
Klokov: Couldn’t agree more.
Akkaev: Psychological pressure is huge and recreation is priceless. When we’re at the camp, say in Chekhov, the little things matter. Well, Chekhov is passable, but take Ruza or Ognikovo [small towns in Moscow Oblast, Oblast is a administrative territory unit in Russia, think of a state in the U.S.] — guys, who train there simply go nuts, because it’s so boring. I’ve also discovered Sochi [major city in South of Russia, it will host 2014 Winter Olympics] training camp recently…
Klokov: You’ve been there? I haven’t.
Akkaev: I have. It’s great *gives thumbs up*. Gym itself is so-so, but recreational facilities are beyond any praise. But back to Taganrog, I’ve singled out several pros for myself: first, you can hang out in the city, I have lots of friends here; second, the meals are superb; third, the training conditions are great; and a bonus for me — I’m not far from home. I can go over there for a weekend.
Klokov: So it suits all your needs. Nothing disturbs you.
Akkaev: Not a thing. I am asked sometimes whether I want to visit another camp, have a bit of a rest. I always say “No, I’m fine here”.
Klokov: I’ve lived in Taganrog for years myself. Team practice was taking place somewhere far away, David Adamovich [David Rigert] with the guys was in Chekhov, but he allowed me to stay and train here. Because you know the saying, let well alone. Why would you leave your family, your home and your friends if you can train here just as well… Sport is not the only thing in life, you know. It’s not uncommon when a sportsman comes back home, but no one waits for him. So you should train where you’re comfortable.
Klokov: So we share the same opinion about THE best training camp. And which would you call the worst?
Akkaev: The one in Podolsk [city in Moscow Oblast], I’d say.
Klokov: Why? It has the vibes, has it not?
Akkaev: Yeah, but the vibes alone won’t get you to better lifts. And after all, I haven’t been there for ages. Truth be told, apart from those mentioned, I’ve only been to four or five camps. Chekhov, Ruza — but that’s distant past. Podolsk…
Klokov: So, the only one you haven’t been to, is the one in Ognikovo?
Klokov: But we’ll go there this August.
Akkaev: I’ve done a 1RM there, before the Junior World Championship. So technically I’ve visited the camp, but I don’t remember a thing from there.
Klokov: It has changed a lot.
Akkaev: I don’t remember the road, the camp itself and it’d be fair to say that I’ve never been there. But you know what? I think the one in Chekhov is the worst.
Akkaev: Yes. It’s awful in winter. I’m on the verge of not training at all in the winter time. Training there, I mean. It’s one hell of a challenge. When you finally make it to the gym, you’ve exhausted enough to go home already.
Klokov: We constantly argue about that with the coaches. They always tell that there’s nowhere to go for a walk here. Although there’s an oak grove nearby — it has seen its better days, of course, but still… Coaches are full of energy, they’re always willing to stroll around. We’re bit different — after 10 sets of 10 reps of squats I just want to go back to my room in a towel and lie down. And in Chekhov you have to cover hell of a distance before you get home, wind is blowing, roads haven’t been cleaned, your socks are soaking wet (and I have an arthritis), not what you call an easy ride. I probably wouldn’t say that it’s the worst, but I agree with the cons that you’ve mentioned.
Anyway, we’re in Taganrog right now. What are you preparing for and what are your plans for 2013?
Akkaev: I’ll try to train for the World Championship, although I’m not sure that I’ll comeAkkaev: Well, it’s the first time I and en entire year for training. I’ve started on April 6, when I came here. Now I’m in 60-70% of my top shape. I’ll try to train for the World Championship, although I’m not sure that I’ll come.
Klokov: Well, no one can be 100% sure about these things. We’ve been 100% sure that we’d go to London.
Akkaev: And I always remember your words: “It takes one day to finish off your career”. So I won’t promise that I will be there no matter what. So, yeah, the World Championship then. As for 2014, 2015 — I don’t look so far into the future now. I live for the day. I’ll do my best and come what may.
Klokov: How are your injuries? I’ve heard you had quite a serious one.
Akkaev: Truth be told, at first it was tough. My entire back was excised.
Klokov: Do you talk about the surgical treatment in London?
Akkaev: Yes, it was in August. Then I came to Rostov for the rehab, physiotherapy and stuff. Nothing worries me at the moment. There are some minor issues, but you know — we lift iron, and when you do that you’re never 100% healthy.
Klokov: But sometimes injuries make you lose coordination.
Akkaev: I’ve got a bit of asymmetry in my back. Right part of my waist is slightly weaker than the left one. That’s probably because I still try to be cautious with the weights.
Klokov: Don’t worry, you have plenty of time to gain some meat there.
Akkaev: In general, I have nothing to complain about, training as I do today. The question is,
whether I will be able to get back to shape in time. Time is running out. I’ve missed a lot of time, 9 months, give or take. And now I have 6 more to get fit for competition.
Klokov: It’s doable.
Akkaev: Yes, and given enough time, I’ll be at the World Championship.
About His Cat
Klokov: Let’s talk about your cat, the one that you live with at the training camp. What his name? It’s him, right?
Akkaev: Yeah, it’s a he-. His name’s Klovis.
Klokov: Is it just a call of heart or do you have a more pragmatic reason? It is said that cats can
heal their owners. Do you apply him to your back before going to sleep? *laughs*
I was feeling lonely and it just occurred to me to get a cat.Akkaev: Nah, even if you do apply him to your back, he wouldn’t stay there for long. He’s his own master. It was absolutely coincidental, a random thing. I came to Taganrog in January, I was feeling lonely and it just occurred to me to get a cat. So I went online, found an ad of the breeder and called. It was exactly the breed I wanted.
Klokov: Was it expensive?
Akkaev: Depends. It was 300$ for a kitten.
Klokov: Well it’s not that much. Not some super fancy breed.
Akkaev: No, nothing of a kind. So I brought him, he was just a little ball of fur. And I really wanted to see him grow. His was like a baby to me.
Klokov: Well that means…
Akkaev: Means what?
Klokov: That you live no just to lift and do business, that you’re interested in other things too.
Akkaev: I guess. Well that was an impetuous decision.
Klokov: Which has turned into a responsibility since. Even when you came for an interview all the way from Rostov, you brought him with you. When you went out of the car, your friend, who brought you, was about to leave. And you were like: “Stop, man! My cat!” and you took him from the back seat. He travels like that, on a back seat, no cage and stuff. He’s a top cat.
Klokov: Back to your injury though. Have you had any accidents before? Because I’ve always remembered you like a person without a single complain about your health.
Akkaev: I never had one. Just some stupid ones. Like the other day I came to the gym to Slavik [diminutive name for Slava, apparently Vladislav Rigert — translator’s note] and told him to hold the bag, I wanted a bit of bag practice. Why the hell would I do that, I ask myself. So the bag bounced and I hurt my wrist. That’s always how it is with me — all of my injuries are my own fault.
Klokov: Yeah, all of us sportsmen do that. You get the combat spirit and want to try something new.
Akkaev: Exactly. Like wrestle with friends right on the verge of Olympics. My knee crunched, I got bruised and was unable to train for a week. Apti [apparently Apti Akhadov, member of Russian junior Olympic team] had to make up stories to cover me — like I was squatting and hurt my leg. Apart from that I never had a single serious injury.
Akkaev: But I never had a single injury from lifting.
Klokov: So, no professional injuries then?
Akkaev: Nope, not a single one. Before this last one. I had some alarm signals from my body, but I stretched, warmed up and was fine. A tiny sprain, who cares. So I didn’t pay attention. Until it was too late. My only injury and such a fateful one.
Klokov: I know that you’re into philosophy.
Akkaev: Not anymore.
Klokov: But it was a hobby of yours, wasn’t it? Did it help you to overcome the failure of the Russian team in London? What did you feel about the fact that we didn’t go, you and I?
Akkaev: I am Muslim, you see. Our duty is to believe in destiny and predestination — in other words, into fate.
Klokov: Yeah, I’ve often heard this.
Akkaev: There’s a quote from Quran, for instance: “the pen is lifted and the ink has dried out”. If it’s over, then it’s over. Everything is predetermined. That’s why it was easy for me to get through it.
Although I still face the echoes of that situation today and they are not particularly pleasant.
Klokov: Yeah, when you accidentally read the news or something.
Akkaev: Exactly. Like when I read something in the Internet and see Torokhtiy [Oleksiy Torokhtiy, Ukrainian weightlifter, who won the gold at 2012 Summer Olympics in men’s 105 kg category] and I turn the computer off, trying to calm myself down, repeating that it was my fate anyway. Well, Dimon didn’t go either [speaks of Klokov; Dimon is a form used by the friends, not an official contraction like Dima, but not a diminutive form either], Aramnau didn’t go [Andrei Aramnau, Belarusian weightlifter], Albegov [Ruslan Albegov — Russian weightlifter in 105+ category] screwed his attempts. I keep saying myself that it’s all wrong.
Klokov: Yeah, doesn’t look like a coincidence. One athlete, who failed to deliver the best performance — it happens, two — still can be explained. But four of them?! In the same category?!
Akkaev: I don’t know what they’ve been up to in Ukraine *laughs*
Klokov: Actually, I’ve spoken to Torokhtiy recently and we’re going to use the same program in August. I will soon talk to him again, and will try to figure out what evil sorcery this was. Oh, I will also ask, where he stores his medals and probably will even hold the medal that Khadzhimurat and I were tearing our asses out for.
Akkaev: He’s a good guy after all, Torokhtiy. I’ve been called to a press-conference after the Olympics. He approached me, said that he was sorry for my injury. I liked that trait of his. Iranians were arrogant, noses in the air. Torokhtiy hasn’t been like that at all.
Klokov: And Iranians are partially kin to people of Caucasus, no?
Akkaev: Let me explain. There are Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Like protestant, catholic and orthodox Christians. They hate each other. Literally can’t stand one another. They know that I’m Sunni and they have this disparaging attitude. Me, I have no problems with that. I easily conversed with that second Iranian. What was his name? Sayeed? Sayad?
Klokov: *smiling* We don’t even know their names!
Akkaev: Doesn’t really matter. I was like: “Hey you. How’s it going?” No fuss, no scorn. But they treated us a bit differently. Which is why I like Torokhtiy even more — although he clearly understood that had even one of us competed, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the gold. Still, he came to give his sympathies. Thanks, friend. If you watch this, know that I’m grateful
*nods to the camera*
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Klokov: What place do girls hold in your life?
Akkaev: *smiles crookedly* I can’t live without them.
Klokov: This smile told us all, really. But I think our female viewers would be interested to know, what kind of girls Khadzhimurat likes.
Akkaev: You know, I’ve recently caught myself thinking that I like ALL of them. There are no unattractive women.
Klokov: *laughing* I know the ending to this saying
Akkaev: Do you?
Klokov: Yeah, there is a Russian saying: “There is no such thing as an unattractive woman — there may be not enough vodka” [the saying indeed exists and is quite popular]
Akkaev: No, my point was that every woman has something special about her. You just have to look carefully to see her beauty.
Klokov: Agreed. Do you date someone at the moment?
Akkaev: I don’t.
Klokov: What should a girl of dream be or look like?
Akkaev: A faithful one.
Klokov: So you value faithfulness?
Akkaev: Yes, that is the ultimate merit of any woman. Faithfulness and honesty.
Klokov: And what about the looks?
Akkaev: It is important for me, too. Some people say that the most important thing for a girl is to have a good heart.
Klokov: What is that supposed to mean?
Akkaev: Don’t ask me, I don’t know. She may have her issues. We, men, will never completely understand women. But if she’s good-looking and faithful, she’s the one for me.
Klokov: I absolutely agree about faithfulness. And back to your cat. Usually, people get themselves pets, when they want to take care of a living creature and try themselves: whether they are capable of that or not. So it is a kind of a test — whether you’re ready to have kids or not? So are you?
Akkaev: I am ready. And let me tell you something. Even if I wasn’t, I would have been made to. Among Caucasian nations this is a must, a tradition, a man’s duty.
Klokov: And speaking of traditions. I’ve heard that there’s custom that you should only marry a girl of the same nationality.
Akkaev: Absolutely not true. Even Quran says: “You are free to marry chaste Christian or Judaic women”. According to Quran, Muslim woman cannot marry a person of another religion, but men can.
Klokov: Have you ever fallen in love?
Akkaev: Of course. I am a living man, I have feelings. But I’ve never been insanely in love. Besides, with whom are we supposed to fall in love anyway? I mean here, in the training camp. Barbells are our true loves. You have to break up with the barbell first — then you get married in a snap.
Klokov: Ain’t got time for love, you see.
Akkaev: True that. You were lucky to have a break to get into a TV-show and meet your wife. I wasn’t that lucky.
Klokov: Yeah, there are people who never stop the hard work and those, who enjoy some leisure time. I belong to the second type obviously. So eventually my leisure time ended with a marriage. I didn’t have a single regret ever since — and that was 8 years ago.
About His Famous Interview
KLOKOV: Now. Let’s talks about your article [referring to his famous interview]…
Akkaev: I’ve been waiting for this question…
Klokov: The one that made a lot of hype. I remember that it was first mentioned during the Russian Championship in Kazan. And all the competition hysteria, all the team fuss was eclipsed — your article stole the show. Everyone was discussing it. What made you do that, I mean personal remarks? What was the last straw that broke the camel’s back? Because I know you as a person, who holds traditions and hierarchy almost sacred. And then, su-mash, like a bolt from the blue, comes out this article.
Akkaev: I want to make it clear first. Everyone condemns me for making less than flattering comments about national team. My opinion about the President of the Federation, head coach wasn’t the key issue. People interpret it whichever they deem convenient.
Klokov: The way they’ve always done before.
Akkaev: That’s especially true about the member of Shatoy internet-forum [web-site dedicated to weightlifting]. If I only knew how to register there, I would have responded to many people. But I digress. I said, and I quote myself: “Our national team is full of remarkable people; they are great lads, very sympathetic, would never leave you in trouble and I’ve never questioned their personal qualities. But at the moment national team is not quite ready to compete at an international level — and both head coach and President of the Federation agree with me on that one. The only exceptions are the categories of 85 kg (namely Apti Aukhadov) and 94 (Artem Ivanov)”
Klokov: Khadzhimurat wants to say that the level of national team doesn’t keep up with the standard.
Akkaev: All of them are really promising athletes. They have a potential to grow and shine bright, in the years to come if not now. They will blossom by the next Olympics. That goes without saying.
I trust in them.
Klokov: We have another change of generations again, aren’t we?
Akkaev: Of course. Oh, and by the way. I wasn’t actually called to the training camp by the Federation [National Weightlifting Federation]. I came by myself, sponsored by “Yunost’ Moskvy” [Youth of Moscow, Olympic reserve weightlifting school in Moscow].
Klokov: Same here.
I was stripped of the salary.Akkaev: I was stripped of the salary. Although I was promised that it wouldn’t come to that.
Klokov: Who promised you that?
Akkaev: Syrtsov, President of the Federation. He gave me his word that he’d keep my wage. Well, I don’t have it anymore. I’ve even went to the head coach and apologized. Just think of it! I had to apologize for the injury. If a brick falls on top of my head, while I’m taking a walk, am I supposed to apologize for being dead?
I went to the Minister of Sports and he said that there’s nothing to apologize for, that it is ridiculous. And yet my apologies are not enough for the head coach and President of the Federation.
Klokov: Well, they got emotional.
Akkaev: And have I not? I had to miss Olympics because of that!
Klokov: I understand you like no other.
Akkaev: What really got under my skin and made me go personal, was that President and the head coach have not kept their word. I’ve never whimsical, saying that I won’t compete at the Nationals and would only go to the World Championship, without selection or anything — quite the contrary, I said that I am up for any selection, that I’d be glad to come to the training camp and be tested just like any member of the national team. So, please, don’t misinterpret my words.
Klokov: That was one of the purposes of this interview — to add clarity. So that people wouldn’t have to guess. And one more thing, you’re free to ask me whatever you like on YouTube or through my e-mail [[email protected]].
Akkaev: I do not consider myself an outstanding athlete. I might have more titles and ranks than some other sportsmen, but regardless of that — at the present moment I am an ordinary member of the team. Like you, Dima.
Klokov: True. We’re soldiers. That’s how I think of ourselves.
Akkaev: Agreed. I used to say the same after Beijing Olympics. We’re soldiers — we go, where they send us. I am an ordinary athlete and I claim that I’m ready to prove my superiority through the selection of any kind and get the ticket to the World Championship.
Klokov: Just like I mentioned during the interview with Oleg Chen, if a person has been bringing his country medals and fame for 10 years and then stumbles — yes, the timing was bad, but you can’t predict these things — maybe you should support him and give him a break instead of setting all the dogs on him.
And I also would like to thank (and I think you’d support me) Maxim Abdulmejidov [President of the Moscow Weightlifting Federation]…
Akkaev: I am indeed very grateful to him.
Klokov: I’d like to thank him for being probably the only person — apart from my friends and family — who supported me, when I was down on my luck, after the London failure. He supported me — and keeps supporting me now — helping my family and giving me a place to train.
Klokov: I’ve heard that you always seek advice from outside prior to taking any action. Have you asked for any advice prior to this interview [meaning the one mentioned above]?
Akkaev: It all happened spontaneously. I got a call from the journalists, who asked me why I was not participating in the Russian Championship, although my participation was announced. So one thing led to another, and as we spoke I was working myself up — you know how it is with us, Caucasians [in Russia Caucasian means a person that is originally from the Caucasus, not the one that pertains to a white race]. However, I was fully aware of my words and I do not renounce anything I said. I stick to every single thing.
Klokov: Do you think that it will impact relationship with your friends? With David Adamovich, you are really close to him and I remember him mentioning that you shouldn’t have said certain things.
Akkaev: You see, essentially 100% of the weightlifting community agreed with me. But…
Klokov: *interrupts* During the interview with Oleg Chen, when the vote about the interview was on, I’ve mentioned that 240 people had already voted. Approximately half of them approved the interview, another half didn’t like it. So it was a 50-50 situation [vote and the discussion have taken place at a Russian weightlifting-related web-site].
Akkaev: But people exaggerated the issue, being pissed with the form of my words, not their essence. I’ve never said a bad word about the national team — my point has always been that the level of its training was insufficient for the World Championship. And I certainly haven’t made any personal remarks. Even when they asked me about the 105 kg category, the world record holders and stuff.
Klokov: Even I don’t hold any grudge against you. So no one should, really.
Akkaev: I think that any weightlifting fan is aware of time, place and person, responsible for breaking world record. Me and Dima, we were breaking them day after day after day. And the proof is right there, on the YouTube. So I think I’m competent enough to judge. I think that you can find out what athlete is truly worth only at the international competition.
Klokov: Have you ever regretted that this interview appeared?
Akkaev: No. I would stand by every single word I said then.
Klokov: Do you think it was necessary?
Akkaev: I do. I wanted people to know how the top weightlifting authorities treat athletes: former sportsmen, competing athletes, etc. I’ve never claimed that I am the best Olympic champion ever, but neither would I agree that I can’t work hard enough to earn a salary. I really don’t get it, how comes that sportsmen, who haven’t even made it to podium deserve a salary, and I, current world champion AND active sportsman — don’t. And I’m not even called to take part in the national selection, where there are lots of “dead souls” [cultural reference to Nikolai Gogol’s book. Akkaev means that many athletes are listed, but they have never actually come to train]. Ivanenko [Dmitry Ivanenko, Russian weightlifter in 77 kg category] has gone through selection for the Russian Championship, yet he was called here without any further selections.
Anyhow, I wanted to make it clear. I have nothing against the national team in general. All the members are great lads. There are no low-life bastards in weightlifting; at least, I don’t know a single one.
Klokov: Surely, the culture and the atmosphere has changed. In the past all of us were hanging out together, playing cards, playing chess. Today, in the era of computers and the Internet, people have become more reserved, less social. Ways of communications have certainly changed, but the attitude, the spirit is still the same. Aslanbek Ediev [Russian weightlifter in 85 kg category] will stand as my witness. The atmosphere has changed a bit, but the spirit, the vibes are still good.
And summing it up, do you have anything else to say on this subject? Any apologies, wishes?
Akkaev: Well, if any athlete from the national team misinterpreted my words and took offense, I apologize. But as for the federation authorities, I will repeat it again and again: I still believe in every word I said.
Klokov: Still, in terms of preparation for the London Olympics, which neither of us (alas!) could truly take advantage of, it was beyond any compliment. Do you have anything to complain about in this regard? Anything about the work of the Federation itself?
Akkaev: There is one thing. I’ve been told that the President of the Federation once said: “When I come to power, I’ll get rid of any single member of the old national team and will create my own.”
Klokov: A dream team, huh?
But until I stand, I will fight and I will prove what I am worth.Akkaev: So, when I came to the training camp I haven’t met a single coach I knew before, not a single athlete I knew. Not even those, who competed in 2012 Olympics. So if there’s anything I ask God for, it is health. I want to train for the World Championship and prove what I am worth. Then I’ll be able to tell him that this is me and what I’m capable of and this is your team. There is age and there is risk of injury, yes. I may lift tomorrow, hurt my back and end up in a wheelchair. But until I stand, I will fight and I will prove what I am worth. I personally dislike the current state of affairs in the Federation. I don’t like the status that the President’s Cup enjoys — when a citizen of an I-don’t-know-which country comes
Klokov: Was he Ecuadorian, Cuban?
Akkaev: Doesn’t matter. So he comes, cleans and jerks 130 kg in a 105 kg category and get the bronze. What the hell was that? And compare the level of competition to the amount of money allotted to hold them.
Klokov: But in the end it brings weightlifting to the masses?
Akkaev: It’s what it is supposed to do, but does it, really? You are doing more for that cause.
Klokov: Now that’s a sensitive issue for me. I’ve been always arguing with everyone — including my father — about that. He (my father) has always believed that you have to popularize and promote weightlifting itself. Now look at the President’s Cup — the tremendous amount of invested money and an actual outcome. I, on the other hand, think that you have to promote actual people — you, me, other weightlifters — and promote the sport through them. I try to get into the television and stuff so the young boys would look at me, know that I’m a weightlifter and decide to go into weightlifting themselves. Because that’s something people can connect to. And how can they connect to a President’s Cup, where people from other countries come to compete? And at what cost? The contradiction between actual results and the amount of put money and efforts is ridiculous.
Akkaev: I’m totally with you on that.
Klokov: So that’s my idea of promotion. Target strikes, actual living athletes that people can connect to. Do you have a promotion recipe of your own?
Akkaev: First, we need a better collaboration with the media.
Klokov: But we have a person for that in the Federation. Anton Kislyakov.
Akkaev: And what does he do?
Klokov: Well he’s responsible for that.
Akkaev: Is he? Well let him respond then, why there’s no result? National Championship is not broadcasted, although people are desperate to watch it. There are constant troubles with the World and European Championships broadcasting. Is it on, is it not? No one knows, who will or who won’t broadcast it and there is no information at all. What it came to? People ask you, competing athlete, not a journalist, to make an interview with Akkaev, with other people.
Klokov: Yeah, people go crazy in the comments. They demand to show them Akkaev.
Akkaev: Here I am! *waves*
Klokov: And another time I’ve uploaded a footage of Rigert’s gym and there was a table tennis or Russian billiard and people wrote something like: “I wish I could see Akkaev and Klokov playing against each other”. People want simple things. My show-business experience taught me one thing. People don’t want to constantly look at us lifting crazy weights. There’s a number of specialists and pros who want just that and nothing else. But the majority, amateur sportsmen and common viewers would like to know what kind of person this or that sportsman is. They fall for the personality and enjoy watching everything he does. It doesn’t really matter to them, whether he lifted 200 kg or 300 kg. Even 100 kg looks heavy enough for them.
Akkaev: I couldn’t agree more.
Life After Weightlifting?
Klokov: Have you ever thought what are you going to do, when you quit? Will you stay around weightlifting?
I really want to change weightliftingAkkaev: You know, in the past I’ve always been saying that when I quit, I quit. That would be it. No more lifting. But now I really want to change weightlifting, I want it to be different, when I’m done with that sport. I hate the situation, when a President of the Federation can bring his own coaches, doctors and athletes and make them champions, while barring the rest from the competition. I dream of a sport, where person is judged for his achievements, a meritocracy of sports. Even if he’s from a village in the middle of nowhere, why does it matter? If he has the talent, let him compete.
Klokov: Yes, it’s the talented village kids, who can let sport survive.
Akkaev: Exactly, and not like it is now, when people are not given half a chance for self-realization. People approach me and boast about Ilyin [Ilya Ilyin] jerking 240 kg at the training. So what? Ivanov was snatching 190 kg for 2 reps at the same time. But they don’t give him a chance. Why an Olympic champion cannot come from a village? Why the hell do you try to drag your own athlete without a hint of talent?! Why would they over promote Bedzhanyan [David Bedzhanyan, Russian weightlifter, 105 kg category]?
Klokov: Do you think he has no talent?
Akkaev: And don’t you think the same?
* Klokov shrugs his shoulders*
Akkaev: We’ve been through shit, you and I. It’s not for me to tell you how it was. How they’ve tried to drag us down. It’s not for me to tell you that you’ve jerked 216 kg at the National Championship, although you’ve been jerking 240 kg a month before.
Klokov: Yeah, we were exhausted.
Akkaev: That’s my point! I have nothing more to complain about.
Klokov: Well, I’ve been also exhausted because of my university studies.
Akkaev: Nah, university career was just a drop in the ocean. You were the champion of the world in clean and jerk. You used to jerk 242. You were simply exhausted to shreds, so that others could win. And it’s the same old story all over. Now they don’t let you go to masseur.
Klokov: Well not anymore, at least that shit is over.
Akkaev: Finally a hint of common sense. I, too, had to ask a friend of mine to come and give me a massage. And, by the way, Nikolay Alekseevich [apparently masseur at the training camp] supported me from the very beginning, he and other doctors, too.
Klokov: Nikolay Alekseevich, he’s like Soltan Osmanovich Karakotov, both are true men in the best sense of the word.
Akkaev: My point exactly. Old-school tough-guys.
Klokov: They would go against the system if the cause is right.
Akkaev: Yes, unlike the majority of the population in the country, who would only gossip behind your back. Keyboard warriors, they will not say a word against you and then vote anonymously, calling you names. So when I quit, I’d like to stay around the Federation just to make sure that they play fair. If you’re worth it, you will go to whatever championship, no matter who you are and where are you from.
Klokov: Like a coordination council.
Akkaev: Sort of. I don’t want to be an opposition that barks, but no one pays attention to it; the one that exists outside of the decision-making circles. I want my voice to make a difference and I am going to achieve that. I believe that people will support me.
Klokov: So it’s not that easy to say goodbye to iron then?
when you stumble, they are ready to bury you aliveAkkaev: No. It’s just that I have to put my name and my efforts behind it. And I will. I’m not saying that when I was at the top, no one paid attention. Everyone did. Perhaps, even too much. But it really buggers me, that when you stumble, when you fall on one knee, they are ready to bury you alive. I don’t think that it’s fair. I don’t think that it’s how it’s supposed to be. And a lot of athletes suffer from that all over the country.
Klokov: Very true.
Akkaev: Or take Mogushkov [Chingiz Mogushkov, Russian weightlifting champion, 105+ category]. Why wasn’t he allowed to train with the national team? He had to train alone, in Anapa [city in the south of Russia], then he comes to the national championship and wins it. That day I called him and said: “I respect you for what you’ve done, for your fight”. So why he and the rest are being dragged down: Mogushkov, Demanov…
Akkaev: Lapikov too
Klokov: He had gone under the radar. People at the YouTube keep asking, where is he. Well, we’re about to see him 2 weeks from now, in Chekhov. There’s gonna be that much of Lapikov *shows how much* [42:46] From all the angles, so to say *laughs*
Now a question about Shatoy [weightlifting-related web-site, one of the most popular in Russia], since it’s one of the most popular lifting-related web-sites. What purpose do you think it serves? What are its goals? Does it actually make weightlifting popular and what do you think about criticism of you at this web-site?
Akkaev: I stick to the point that criticism must be grounded and proven.
Klokov: And delivered without hiding behind a nickname.
Akkaev: Yes. Without doubt. Although you’ve been criticized for 6 years, you know.
Klokov: If someone writes that Dmitry Klokov is a dickhead, I’d really like to know who’s talking and why. The anonymity is the only disadvantage that I see there. If it is improved, it’s gonna be great *gives a thumbs up* [43:50]
Akkaev: I’ve noticed this trend too. People, who have given their personal information, who don’t hide their names, are usually much more thoughtful. They try to understand the circumstances of every situation and give an unbiased estimate. I am open to any criticism, if it is grounded. If there’s an article (like the one I was criticized for), read it carefully and try to get the message before you post something. I’ve reread it myself several times, thinking that there might have been some misunderstanding between me and journalists, or maybe they have misinterpreted my words. But no, the point was laid in a clear and logical manner. The message was simple “They [members of the national team] have great personalities, but they are not ready for the international level. Syrtsov [Sergey Syrtsov — President of the Russian Weightlifting Federation] is this, Venkov [Alexandre Venkov — head chief of Russian male national weightlifting team] is that.”
And then some coach (I’m not gonna say his name) posts a message saying that this interview exposes my poor moral compass and questions my upbringing and training. I also don’t like the fact that some people seek for allies there. Because some of us are tricked easily and their cunning “comrades” talk them into uniting against me. [45:55]
Guys, stop doing that bullshit. Analyze the situation and people involved and then judge. Explain your point instead of calling me names and I’ll be satisfied, no questions asked.
Apart from that, I think that the web-site is quite useful.
Klokov: What disturbs me, is the amount of unchecked and unproven information there. And mind that journalists might use it as a reliable source of insider’s information (according to their opinion) preparing themselves for an interview (with me, for example). I did the same, I did some background check before this interview. I knew a lot about Khadzimurat, but still I decided to google some more.
And journalists, they don’t know a thing about us. They find this web-site, start reading articles of doubtful authorship and value and they get a distorted image of us.
This is why I’ve registered there, and I inspire all the guys from the team to do the same. So that people would be able to ask us questions and get confirmed and direct answers.
This would help to rule out the situations like when my mom reads something about me there and her hair stand on end, so she asks me if I truly am this horrible person they are writing about. *lifts his arms in disbelief*
Kids and Weightlifting
Klokov: Khadzhik [apparently a diminutive name for Khadzhimurat. It’s the first time I hear it and it sounds very cute and friendly in Russian], if some parents are watching this video. What if they have kids and they like weightlifting and would like their kids to try it, but they are afraid of some bogeyman-stories about weightlifting, what would you say to them?
Like that they never grow tall. Never mind that we’re over 180 cm each [about 6′-6’1]. If not for weightlifting, we would’ve apparently been 250 cm tall [8’2].
I wouldn’t let my kid go into weightliftingAkkaev: Well, regarding the “they-won’t-grow-tall” myth. When I came to weightlifting I was 153 cm tall [5′] and my bodyweight was 37 kg. Today I am 182 cm tall [6′] and I weigh 105 kg. It’s all genetics, if you’re bound to be tall or short — you will be, regardless of all the weights in world. But there are other things to consider. In this game one year counts for two. Doing it professionally, you’ll pay with your health. I don’t know whether I should say that or not, but I wouldn’t let my kid go into weightlifting.
Klokov: Really? That’s weird. And I would.
Akkaev: Well, that’s in your genes. You have a weightlifting dynasty.
*both smile* [49:15]
Klokov: If I don’t bring home the gold, I’m gonna get my ass kicked *imitates kicking*. “Go gold or go home”.
Akkaev: It’s different to me. I judge by the things that I’ve experienced myself. Material welfare and wellbeing of your family is not the last thing in the world.
Klokov: It gives more freedom.
Akkaev: It does. But think about the prospects. There’s not much money for the athletes and only few make it to the top. Federation authorities can afford luxuries, without doubt, but it’s different for the rest and the situation will hardly change under current authorities. Imagine that your kid does not succeed. He’s back to square one, but with no money (time spent for training, not for the job), no health (wasted in the gym) and pretty dumb, truth be told (since other kids used that time to study).
Klokov: So, basically what you’re saying is that the benefits are not worth the risk? That thousands try, but few succeed?
Akkaev: Precisely. It’s 150 million people in the country, but just two of us make it to the Olympics.
Klokov: Or don’t *laughs*[50:20]
Akkaev: Yeah, and the other time we didn’t make it. *laughs too* And all the world record-holders from our category have been left behind.
Klokov: But you have to lift anyway, isn’t it? Screw the weightlifting, it is still important to pump iron, to lift at all.
Akkaev: Without any doubt. You have to develop physically.
Klokov: To get the chicks.
*both laugh and shrug shoulders* [50:33]
Akkaev: If you get a body like yours, you’re good.
Klokov: You don’t have to snatch, clean or jerk for that, I swear. I’m gonna tell you how. And Khadzhimurat will also show you some interesting exercises.
Akkaev: Nah, I can try, but I know that I will never look like you.
Back to the question though, I’d say football or hockey are much more promising from the material point of view. Hockey, I think.
Klokov: Yeah, it’s manlier.
Akkaev: But in fact, I am more inclined to wrestling.
Akkaev: Yes. I love it. Greco-Roman wrestling is a hobby of mine.
Klokov: Is that a traditional thing for Caucasians?
Akkaev: Maybe. But it is a hobby. I do that in my spare time. Freestyle wrestling is a bit too intense for me. Although you might have succeeded there with your flexibility.
Klokov: I did judo.
Akkaev: That just proves my point. But Greco-Roman is fine for me. And I would have definitely sent my kid to a wrestling group. And it’s more practical too. I get really pissed when someone needs to lift or move a wardrobe and they go like “Hey, you’re weightlifter, do that”.
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Both of them in unison: Yeaaah, right.
Klokov: I think that any person that lifts has been in that situation.
Akkaev: But it is not practical. You can’t even defend yourself. Yes, most of the people will be frightened by your sheer size. And what to do with those, who are not? Run?
*both laugh* [52:04]
So weightlifting might be useless in real life. Of course, all of us want our kids to get an all-round education and development. We want them to be smart and physically developed. But when it comes to sports, I would’ve preferred wrestling.
Klokov: But you have to lift anyway.
Akkaev: Absolutely. Weight training is essential for almost any kind of sports.
Klokov: I’ve started with weightlifting because that’s what I do for a living. I want to choose the structure of interviews. Then the interviews will be translated and subtitles will be made. Then we’ll move to other sports, wrestling, for instance — we’ll show their approach to weight training. Because there is a great deal of sport-specific exercises, which might be interesting for anyone, who’s doing any kind of fitness activity.
And here comes the concluding part of our interview. A short-quiz of sorts.
Rapid Fire Quiz
What do you fear the most in your life?
Akkaev: Our Lord.
Klokov: You do fear him?
Akkaev: I do.
Klokov: So you’re a religious person?
Akkaev: I am. Which is why I try to live a righteous life.
Klokov: Your greatest weakness?
Akkaev: *whispers* Women
Klokov: *whispers to the camera* Women
Klokov: What is your greatest regret?
Akkaev: Lots of things.
Klokov: But the biggest regret?
Akkaev: Going into weightlifting.
*both roar with laughter* [53:50]
Klokov: Like “damn, I should’ve gone to wrestling”…*still laughing*
Klokov: What makes you proud the most?
Akkaev: I am proud of the fact that my father is proud of me. That’s really important to me.
Akkaev: When my father says: “I am proud of you, son”, I feel myself a truly accomplished person. There cannot be any higher praise for me. No other gift is that valuable.
Klokov: I see. What’s your greatest love?
Akkaev: My parents.
Klokov: Your favourite movie?
Klokov: Any particular movie?
Akkaev: I can’t pick out one. The genre in general. And any movie with Jean Reno.
Klokov: Bentley or Maserati?
Klokov: And a personal question. What is the story behind the phrase: “You’ll never lift that, Klokov”?
Akkaev: “You’ll never lift that, Klokov”…hmm…Ahh, I remember.
*both are in stitches, Akkaev gives Dmitry a high five* [54:45]
That was about Bideev, I think [Aslan Bideev, Russian weightlifter]. I don’t remember the exact circumstances. I think he was trying to clean 260 and I said “You’ll never lift that, Klokov”. Well everyone in the gym had a good laugh, of course. And since then it has become a catchphrase. But since you’ve heard it, I hope you don’t feel hurt. I didn’t mean anything bad.
Klokov: Ah, c’mon man. I loved it, when I heard it. I thought “Now that’s fame”.
Well, I think that was an interesting conversation. I’d like to remind you that we were with Khadzhimurat Akkaev, twice the prizewinner at the Olympics, World Champion, Champion of Europe, Best weightlifter in the world’2011
Akkaev: My mind, so many titles *raises his hands* [55:38]
Klokov: Khadzhimurat, I am very grateful and I really appreciate your contribution.
Akkaev: Thank YOU, friend.
Klokov: I think that it was interesting for us, since we have never had this kind of conversations before. And I hope for the rest of the world too. I just hope we’ve recorded it. The last few minutes I was thinking and praying that I pressed the “Rec” button. *laughs* [55:54]
Akkaev: Isn’t there supposed to be a red light?
Klokov: Nah, not on that camera. I hope that you’ll enjoy it. I also hope that you would get a better and more complete image of Khadzhimurat Akkaev. It’s pretty late already. 1:30 AM. Now we’ll shut the camera, play a party of chess and be off to sleep.
Thanks for watching.
my face when headline
Manuel Buitrago says
This interview was awesome. It was great seeing two rivals speak candidly to each other. I wish Akkaev would get a youtube channel and post more of his lifting.
I just posted an update to part 1. Now we are at around 20min.
and yeah, Akka on youtube would be great.
Manuel Buitrago says
2 hour interview? Holy crap! Super huge props to Vadim.
Yeah HUGE thanks to the guys that make it possible for us non-russian speakers to enjoy these awesome videos. Thank you!
Manuel Buitrago says
Thanks to Kirill too. Is there any way to set up a donation site or something for these guys? Its really a lot of work to do this stuff and its great that theyre spreading the knowledge.
We are currently thinking about the best way to do it, as paypal does not work in Kazakhstan where Vadim is from.
You could set up a paypal account for him in a country where it is allowed then wire the money from your bank account to his (there will probably be transaction fees).
Alternatively, set up a gofundme account.
Moneybookers (Skrill) allows payments to Kazakhstan. I’ve used it in the past to send money to Turkey. It’s not a bad service (probably less fees than paypal to be honest).
It would be great if you guys could add time marks on those translations like you did with the 10 minute mark there. It makes it easier for us non russian speaking folks to watch the vid and read the transcript at the same time.
5 minute marks would be great.
Amazing! Thank you so much for the translation. Did Dmitry ever do an interview with wrestling and post any of the special exercises he was commenting on? THANKS AGAIN!
Charles Nankin says
yeah i thought that was a really good thing for himt o explore, altho a bit out of his area. however there are few links between the rich traditions of russian training and the west. so he could do it.
Jon North says
What a great fucking interview. What klokov says is so true about, people like the personally not just the large lifts. Akkaev should get a youtube too.
Excellent interview thanks a lot for the translation! Very interesting.
It is quite a tribute to these two great champions, both of whom are at the pinnacle of their careers…and yet at any moment…they remain so close to achieving glory again and yet just as close to defeat. If Klokov and Akkaev have any torment, and all great champions do, walking the fine line between victory and defeat is surely it. For both the uncertainty of victory and defeat along with the adversity that goes along with such pursuits is what ultimately drives these men to their greatness and their passion for their sport. Let their words, experiences, and unrelenting desire to overcome such adversity and torment be a lesson to all who dare to walk the line.
you will never lift that weight Klokov.
Thank you immensely Vadim, this is a great interview. If I ever have any translation to do, I’ll be sure to throw business your way!
Vadim Pakhutkin says
And don’t forget Kirill Kazakov, who translated Part 2 🙂
This is my favourite atg post ever. thanks a lot to the translators
Wow Vadim, very impressive translation. I wonder if he would be interested in translating Boris Sheiko’s book “Powerlifting”. Maybe interested parties could do a “group buy” of sorts to compensate him for his time.
Vadim Pakhutkin says
Hey, it’s not just me: Kirill Kazakov translated Part 2, and was definitely much faster 🙂 (My primary job gets in the way too much)
As for Sheiko’s book, it’s too huge a project, I would get fired from my current job if I undertake it 🙂 Also, I’m not particularly interested in powerlifting.
paul travis says
a very informative and interesting interview…i hope they go 1-2 in 2016 olympics but i am not sure which one is my favorite!
well I do not agree with Akkaev with one thing. Bedzhanian has lot of talent, the man is the current record holder of C & J
His snatch is so bad that he can never hope to medal at the worlds.
Haha, 2 years later he puts up a fantastic total at Worlds that is a kg off Klokov’s, receiving a bronze medal only because it was the absolute greatest 105 kg comp ever.
This is awesome! Nothin better than listening to a couple of guys with no Olympic gold between them whine about all their problems, and how gold medal winner so and so, or offical world record holder so and so have no real talent. And how they lift way more in practice than anyone does. What are we talkin about here? Practice? And Clockoff is bitching about university studies. Is he learning how to time his PED’s so he doesn’t have to say, “oh my knee hurts” and Akkaev doesn’t have to say “oh my back is broke and now its fine” The last time i looked Clockoff got beat by a 20 year-old 3-time drunk who was carrying a good 10 Kg of baby fat.
Do you honestly believe that they would have messed up their PED schedule in the run up to the biggest competitions of their lives? I don’t buy that. They are most probably using, but injuries happen. At least Akkaev travelled to London.
Now you can criticise Aramnau all you want, but he’s a freak lifter. If he focused on his lifting rather than going on the piss, he’d be approaching Zakhareivichs numbers weighing 5kg less.
There is no doubt that both Klokov and Akkaev are better than Bedzhanian and Torokhtiy. Of course they are frustrated. No way the top two russian lifters do not time their PEDs right. Grow up.
no way the whole Bulgarian team mis-timed their PED’s either right?
Who has the world CnJ record and who has the London 105 gold?
Ah, that would be Bedzhanian and Torokhtiy.
But clockoff has all those coooooooool utube videos of practice.
I do not think they actually mis-timed their PED’s. But there is another possibility: The new biomarker HGH-test which was first used in 2012 Olympics. This test is able to detect HGH indirectly for up to three weeks instead of very few days like the old test. As HGH is quite likely used by many top-lifter this could have been the deal-breaker for many athletes.
Might be but I would expect most of the Russian team to be on the same kind of juice. Why would only the 105s have to drop out? And it is hard to believe Akkaev had back surgery just to mask the fact that he tested positive back in Russia. Similarly, Klokov’s not so good performance at the Russian cup implies that he might have been injured and is just getting back in shape now. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they are both using PED’s – I just don’t think this is why they did not compete in London.
The other BIG change in London was that if your caught it ain’t just you who gets nailed. The IOC now has the right to pull the whole team as well as ban the team from the next Olympics, Rio in London’s case. So it was in Russia’s best interest to test everyone before London. Clockoff and Akkaev failed. They had to be pulled or no Rio for the whole Russian team. Funny how with all the done stop Clockoff videos and talk shows we have to put up with there isn’t one where he says which knee it was. Strange? maybe it was both. And Akkaev sure seemed to be getting around London just fine, days after “emergency” back surgery. Did u see the presser where he lifted his shirt and showed a bandage on his back.
I tried that with my boss to try and get a 4 day weekend, he just laughed and told me to get my as back to work. Back surgery my ass.
Klokov has higher competition totals than Bedzhanian and Torokhtiy. We are not talking about training vids here. Torokhtiy was just lucky that Aramnau, Akkaev and Klokov did not compete and that Dolega bombed out. Good for him but that does not mean that he is actually better than any of the above lifters.
Torokhtiy is a great lifter (look how clean he snatched 200 and c&j 240 pre london…much more fluent than klokov at similar weights) and he deserved the gold medal. The same counts for Bedzhanian. While his snatch is not perfect he is much…and i mean really much better at c&j than both kokov and akkaev… speaking of him in such a way like in the interview is not fair-minded.
I don’t know about Torokhtiy being a great lifter. I would say he is a good lifter and he was lucky. He did not post great totals in competition. In this sport the total is what really matters – even if Bedzhanian is better at C&J, overall he is still not a top lifter.
Tyler Banville says
One thing to remember about Bedzhanyan is that (so far) he jerks much less outside of Russia. Both his world records 238 and 240 were on home soil. The one time he competed abroad he jerked 230, which is still great but not superior to Klokov or Akkaev. I believe that is why they don’t think much of him.
Alexey Goldbergs says
“Albegov [Ruslan Albegov — Russian weightlifter in 105+ category] screwed his attempts” this part isn’t quite right and they said “Dolega” (Marcin Dolega, weightlifter from Poland in -105 weight class, who was one of the contender for the gold medal but failed all three attempts in snatch).