Ivan Chakarov was in Kiev at the European Weightlifting Championships last week, and it was terrific to be able to catch up with the man who inspired us to coin the term "No-No-No" squats over a decade ago.
Turn the clock back to 1993, at the World Weightlifting Championships (Melbourne, Australia), and Bulgaria's 91-kg Ivan Chakarov, a couple of days from competing, finished his workout with a 270-kg triple in the back squat—besides squatting high-bar, close-stance and rock bottom, it was even more impressive because Chakarov squatted without a belt, wraps or spotters. The no belt-wraps-spotters caused me to label it a No-No-No squat, and between Chakarov himself, the No-No-No name, the photo, and the video, the lifting world was changed forevermore.
Chakarov went on to snatch 185 kg and clean and jerk 222.5 kg, winning the 1993 World Championships over such big name lifters as Khaki Kakiachvili and Anatoli Khrapaty. In Kiev last week, Yoto Yotov had tipped me off that Ivan was lighter and had long hair now, but would you believe that he weighs about 75 kg and has a ponytail ("Steven Seagal," a Bulgarian journalist kidded).
Ivan said he still trains a little, smiling broadly when he said he cleans and jerks 120 kg and back squats 150 kg. Chakarov works for an express package delivery company, and continues to coach as well.