The Bulgarian Weightlifting team's success began with the hiring of Ivan Abadjiev as head coach of the National team. Abadjiev had been an assistant coach for many years but, in 1959, he got into trouble with government authorities by organizing a National Teenage Weightlifting Championship. The thinking at that time was that those under the age of 17 were too young to withstand heavy weightlifting rigors.
Back then, all the Soviet bloc countries were using the same training system–training three or four times a week and not pushing for 100% maximums except when a competition drew near. Abadjiev disagreed with that approach. He challenged authorities by claiming that he had a system that would enable Bulgaria to overtake the USSR and become the world's new weightlifting powerhouse. It was an audacious goal because the USSR had dominated weightlifting through the 1960s.
The Bulgarians finally relented, naming Abadjiev head coach. The year was 1969.
Host Mark Morthier grew up in New Jersey just across the river from New York City during the 1970s, a great time for sports in the area. He relives great moments from this time and beyond, focusing on football, baseball, basketball, and boxing. You may even see a little Olympic Weightlifting in the mix, as Mark competed for eight years. See Mark's book below.