Boris Shakhlin, who died on May 30 aged 76, was one of the most successful gymnasts in the history of the Olympics; known as "the Man of Iron", he also won six individual titles in the world championships. Boris Shakhlin lived in Kyiv...
Boris Shakhlin, who died on May 30 aged 76, was one of the most successful gymnasts in the history of the Olympics; known as "the Man of Iron", he also won six individual titles in the world championships.
Representing the Soviet Union, Shakhlin was competing in an era during which his nation`s gymnasts were vying for supremacy with Japan. At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 he helped the Soviet Union to pip Japan for the team gold medal, and he won a second gold on the pommel horse.
At the next Olympics, in Rome, Shakhlin was the star of the games, emerging as Olympic champion with four golds (the all-round title, parallel bars, vault and pommel horse), two silvers (rings and team) and a bronze (horizontal bar).
Two years earlier, in 1958, he had won the world championships in handsome style, gathering five golds in the competition.
Boris Anfiyanovich Shakhlin was born at Ishim, Russia, on January 27 1932. He was orphaned when he was only 12, and was subsequently brought up by his grandmother, who encouraged his interest in gymnastics. He was unusually tall for a gymnast, which caused difficulties for him on the floor exercises; but his height and reach were a distinct advantage on the horizontal bar, in which he excelled.
After graduating from the Sverdlovsk Physical Training College, Boris took individual coaching from AS Mishanov in Kyiv before going on to the Kyiv Institute of Physical Culture in 1955 – in the previous year he had won a silver medal on the bar at his first world championships. At the 1962 world championships Shakhlin was the silver medallist in four events, and took a bronze in two others. Two years later he was crowned Oympic champion at the Tokyo games.
Shakhlin retired in 1966 after suffering a heart attack, and went on to work as a coach in Ukraine and to serve his sport as an international judge. He was a member of the men`s technical committee of the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) from 1968 to 1992.
A member of the Communist Party since 1964, he was awarded the Order of Lenin, and in 2002 he was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Boris Shakhlin lived in Kyiv, capital of the Ukraine, with his wife, Larisa, a former gymnast, with whom he established the Boris Shakhlin Foundation to aid Ukrainian gymnasts. In recent years he had been employed as a lecturer at the University of Kyiv.