Chuck Vinci: Olympic Bantamweight with a Look and Feel
History in Color:
Charles “Chuck” Vinci (1933-2018), of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, was one of the greatest bantamweight athletes in the history of Olympc weightlifting. Vinci was the last U.S. weightlifter who won the Olympic gold in men’s competitions. It took place in September 1960 in Rome. In addition to his impressive medal path in Olympic weightlifting, Vinci was definitely an athlete who cared about the look and feel he had. He actually worked out in his gym in Ohio for decades after retiring from Olympic weightlifting.
On the national US team, Vinci represented the once greatest York Barbell Club founded by legendary Bob Hoffman, “the father of American weightlifting”. In addition to the national titles in 1954-1956 and in 1958-1961, Charles Vinci brought his country two gold Olympic medals in Melbourne, 1956 and Rome, 1960.
The 4-foot 10-inch tall Vinci was famous as a clutch winner of weightlifting battles.
At the 1956 Olympics, he was facing the bantamweight world champion Vladimir Stogov from Russia. Stogov was famous for his phenomenal physical strength and held the world record in total of that time. Both Stogov and Vinci pressed and snatched 105 kg and the winner had to be determined in the last lift, the clean and jerk lift. Vinci managed to lift 132.5 kg and to beat Stogov by 5 kilograms in the “war of muscles and nerves” that night. In 1960, Vinci won the gold medal competing against the rising star of Japanese and world weightlifting, Yoshinobu Miyake.
Like a true legend of sports, Vinci has his name surrounded with stories. One of the most popular one is about his weigh-in for the Olympics in Melbourne. Before the competition, Vinci was 1.5 pound overweight. After and hour of extensive running and sweating, Vinci was still seven ounces over the limit with 15 minutes to go. In the last moment, Vinci decided to go for a severe hair-cut that did the trick and, eventually, let him win his first gold medal at the Olympics.