Novak was a member of the Soviet Union's weightlifting team at the 1952 Helsinki Games, the first time the Soviet Union sent a team to the Olympics. Only 5'3-1/2", he won the silver medal in the middle-heavyweight division (195 pounds) with a total lift of 410-kilograms (903.75 pounds), 140-kg in the press, 125-kg in the snatch, and 145-kg in the jerk.
Grigori, who was an acrobat before turning to weighlifting at the age of 16, won the world light-heavyweight championship in 1947 (936.5 pounds). He broke the first of his 55 world weightlifting records in 1939 and served in the Soviet army during World War II. He was cited for bravery four times.
In 1952, the same year he won the European Championship in the middleweight class, Novak (weighing 195 pounds) cleaned 286 pounds, pressed it, lowered it behind his neck, and then did a second rep behind his neck! Following his retirement from competition, Grigori joined circuses in Russia and Poland, performing acrobatics and feats of strength. He is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 5, 1919 - d. 1980
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
New York Times, July 21-August 2, 1952