Waldemar Baszanowski Bio: Wrestling Style & Net Worth

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Waldemar Baszanowski was a pioneer in the sport of weightlifting. The concept of weightlifting is to attempt a single maximum-weight lift loaded with masses.

Further, sheer dedication, strength, patience, and endurance are needed to master the craft.

Baszanowski had all of these and a unique quality that set him apart from the others. Thus, he had established himself as one of the best weightlifters.

Waldemar Baszanowski competing
Waldemar Baszanowski, competing at the 1964 Olympics 

Moreover, Waldemar amassed a portfolio of multiple national, Olympic, and world records, including many records.

So, let’s dig deeper into Baszanowski’s early life, career, height, weight, and other information.

Quick Facts

Name Waldemar Baszanowski
Birthname Waldemar Romuald Baszanowski
Nickname “Polish Hero”
Birthdate August 15, 1935
Day of Birth Thursday
Death April 29, 2011
Age (Died at)  75 
Gender Male
Zodiac sign Leo
Chinese Zodiac Pig
Nationality Polish
Body type Athletic
Hair Color Black
Eye color Black
Skin Fair
Height 5’5″(165 cm)
Weight 145 lb(66 kg)
Birthplace Grudziadz, Poland
Parents Jan Baszanowski
Elżbieta Klara Pilcek
Hobbies Camping and Boating
Education State Technical School of Agricultural Mechanization (1957)
Warsaw Academy of Physical Education (1961)
Profession Weightlifting
Club AZS Warszawa
Style Split to squat and vice versa
Major national wins Nine gold medals (Polish championship) & 61 records.
Highest world ranking 1st
Major Olympic results 1960 Rome  – 5th Position
1964 Tokyo – 1st Position
1968 Mexico – 1st Position
Major career results Multiple World Championships
Multiple European Championship
Major Records Nine times in powerlifting
Eight times in the tear
Seven times in the toss
Other career highlights Honorary President of the Polish Weightlifting Association
Relationship status Married
Wife Anita (died 1969)
Maria (died in the 1980s)
Net Worth $5 million – $10 million (2021)
Merch Postcard of Waldemar Baszanowski with original autograph
Last Update March, 2024

Waldemar Baszanowski | Early Life, Family, and Background

Baszanowski was born on April 29, 2011. Further, he grew up in Grudziadz, a city near the Vistula River in northern Poland.

In addition, Baszanowski was born to Jan Baszanowski and Elbieta Klara Pilcek.

Moreover, Baszanowski’s father was a former 64th Artillery Regiment non-commissioned officer in Poland.

Waldemar’s birth name comes from the Old Germanic “valid Mari.” This translated to “famous ruler.”

Eventually, this turns out to be accurate as he ruled the weightlifting category in his prime years. His source of inspiration and passion for weightlifting isn’t known.

Waldemar Baszanowski early career
Waldemar Baszanowski during his early days.

Yet, he had been successful as a sprinter and gymnast in his previous experiences. So, these two talents would serve him well in the future.


Romuald, in 1957, enrolled in the Warsaw Academy of Physical Education after completing his military service. Then, he earned his diploma from the Kwidzyn State Technical School.

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Waldemar Baszanowski | Career

Waldemar Baszanowski never looked back after winning his first national medal. Eventually, he debuted in the 1960 Olympics, his first international competition.

Further, he finished fifth in the competition with a total gain of 370.0 kilos. But the USSR rival Bushuev Victor, who amassed 397.5 kilos, dominated the event. 

Besides, few could have predicted that he would quickly rise to the top of his field in the coming decade.

Rise to the top

Baszanowski surprised everyone by defeating all the previous favorites in the 67.5s at the 1961 European Championships held in Vienna. 

His story was dubbed “Poland’s Surprising Champion” by S&H as he had amassed a total of 402.5 points.

Furthermore, his dominant performance let him finish 2.5kgs ahead of Sergei Lopatin. He also finished 7.5 kilograms ahead of Marian Zielinski, his long-time rival.

In addition, Baszanowski won the silver medal in 1963 at the World and European Championship. But this time, he lost to Zielinski Marian.

Marian scored a whopping 417.5 kilograms. On the other hand, Baszanowski could only gain 410 kilos.

Achieving the Olympic Dream

Baszanowski started the year 1964 began with massive momentum. He prepared for the Tokyo Olympics after consecutive years of podium finishes.

Likewise, Baszanowski edged past Kaplunov for the First Position. Both gained 432.5 kilograms, but the Polish claimed the victory since he was 350 grams lighter.

Furthermore, he broke the previous Olympic record by 25 kilograms and set the new log to beat 432.5 kilograms in powerlifting.

Waldemar Baszanowski in his usual routine
Waldemar Baszanowski training his arms.

Similarly, he carried this form into 1965 as he bagged a gold medal at the World Championship in Tehran.

Besides, the year 1968 marked a legendary trip to the Olympics Games in Mexico for Baszanowski. Consequently, he won his second Olympic gold medal at the Olympics Games in Mexico.

Note: China’s Shi Zhinyong is only the weightlifter to have clinched this back-to-back title at the Olympic games in the lightweight category after Baszanowski in 1964 and 1968. 

The three-time world champion Shi dived into Tokyo Olympics 2021 and secured gold in the men’s 73 kg weightlifting event. He lifted a total of 364 kg and broke his record.

Rising against the setbacks

Baszanowski had a shaky start in 1969 as he met with an accident and lost his first wife, Anita. Despite the unfortunate events before the World, he ended the difficult season by defending his titles.

Hence, he set four world records, including a gain of 445 kilos in front of a Warsaw audience.

Furthermore, the audience chanted, “Sto Lat! Sto Lat!” Baszanowski was on the podium, a famous Polish toast wishing him to “live to 100 years.”

Additionally, this event was the pinnacle of his career. As his fellow citizens finally got to see for themselves how brilliant he had been all these years.

Wrapping up his glorious career

Eventually, the World Championship event happened in the United States in 1970. Besides, this event would mark the beginning of Baszanowski’s fall from grace in his sport.

So, 1972 was set to be the final competition of his career. He secured qualifications for the Munich Olympics.

Yet, he had to settle for 4th place behind Zbigniew Kaczmarek by 2.5 kg and thus decided to call it quits. 

Waldemar Baszanowski | Post Retirement

After retiring from the competitive scene, he decided to try coaching. Further, he became a teacher and instructor at the Warsaw Academy of Physical Education.

Additionally, the Sanoczanka Sanok club invited the AZS Warszawa weightlifters’ team. They wanted to collaborate and train near the end of 1973.

Moreover, Baszanowski traveled to Asia, where he shared many of his competitive experiences to spark the subcontinent’s wrestling scene.

International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) tweet on his memory
International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) tweet on Waldemar Baszanowski’s memory

In 1988, he returned to Poland and quickly rose through the ranks of their sporting culture. Consequently, he became the Polish Weightlifting Association’s training director six years later.

Furthermore, he was elected to the executive committee of the International Weightlifting Federation.

But, he forfeited his before-elected IWF position in 1999. Besides, he was elected as President of the European Weightlifting Federation.

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Waldemar Baszanowski | Weightlifting Style

He was an enigma style, switching from split to squat and back throughout his career. Besides, many other weightlifters have attempted this feat.

Yet, none have set world records like him. Baszanowski started as a splitter and is the last athlete to set world records with the split style.

However, he quickly learned the squat style after his coaches showed the technique’s benefits to him.

Furthermore, he is the only weightlifter to set world records in both styles in the snatch.

Was Waldemar Baszanowski Married? | Know About His Marital Status

Yes, the Polish athlete had married three times and even had a son, Marek, in 1963. Things changed when he was involved in a car accident in Zabostów Maly’s village on July 8, 1969.

Baszanowski and his son were wounded, but his first wife, Anita, was killed in the accident.

Furthermore, in the 1980s, his second wife, Maria, died of terminal cancer. Eventually, Baszanowski married his third wife, Teresa.

His lineage is now survived by her, his first son and stepson.

Waldemar Baszanowski | Accidents and Death

If you think about it, losing his first wife in a car accident was not the only mishap he had to endure. In addition, he fractured his spine and damaged his spinal cord when Baszanowski fell from a tree on his plot near Warsaw in 2007.

As a result of the fall, he was heavily paralyzed. He could only raise his head and arms as a sign of remaining movements.

So, the paralysis rendered him unable to move in a wheelchair. Consequently, it forced him to spend most of his time resting on the bed.

Finally, he breathed his last in a Warsaw hospital on April 29, 2011, at 75. He was buried in the cemetery in Suewo at ul. Wabrzyska a week later.

Waldemar Baszanowski | Age, Weight & Height

Waldemar Baszanowski passed away at the age of 75. He is one of Poland’s most decorated weightlifters, standing at 5 ft 5 in (165 cm).

Moreover, he weighed consistently around the range of 66kg. Nonetheless, he would transition high or low based on the competition requirements.

Waldemar Baszanowski | Awards & Achievements

He earned the honor titled “For Outstanding Sports Achievements” at the end of 1967. His career not only embarked on outstanding personal sporting achievements.

Additionally, the Polish weightlifter pushed initiatives for growth and promoting physical culture. Also, he dedicated services to the Olympic movement.

So, he was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. Besides, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, did this honor.

Furthermore, he was posthumously awarded the Commander’s Cross with a Star of this order on May 6, 2011.

Moreover, the order was delivered to his family as gratitude of respect during the funeral ceremony. He was also awarded the Officer’s and Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

They acknowledged his contributions to the Olympics community with the Olympic Order Medal. Also, he was decorated with The Medal of the National Education Commission.

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Waldemar Baszanowski | Net Worth & Earnings 

Waldemar Baszanowski accounts much of his net worth as a professional light weightlifter. He produced a string of brilliant individual performances and top podium finishes.

His estimated net worth stands in the range of $5 million – $10 million. 


Did Waldemar Baszanowski ever coach after retiring?

Yes, Waldemar Baszanowski was appointed Indonesia’s national coach in the mid-1970s.

Did Waldemar Baszanowski ever play a movie?

He starred in Filip Bajon’s feature film “Return” in 1977.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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