The English subtitles are enabled by default, and I also made a transcript, scroll down.
” I am Denis Cyplenkov,
a multiple winner of the Professional Armwrestling World Cup.
When did you first get introduced to sports?
Early in my childhood: my father was a long-time athlete as well as a soldier.
He was very dedicated to sports and naturally wanted his son to be well trained.
I think I was forced – literally, forced – to join a sports club as soon as school started.
So I joined the judo sports club.
I don’t think I enjoy it at that age,
like most kids I had to be forced to do it.
They would have to make me go there up until about my fifth grade.
So I would suggest that parents don’t wait for their children to want to do sports,
they need to be pushed for a while to go to a sports club.
They’ll grow to love it later on, just as I did.
Tell us about your first sport successes and achievements, how did it feel and what did you think?
I took part in some tournaments for children right away,
when I was in the up to 40-42 kilos category.
There was a couple of judo tournaments.
I did judo for two years and won two tournaments.
There was this one time when I went for a more serious
district level tournament and came second.
Anyway, the first medals I’ve won were for judo.
I won once, then twice – I enjoyed it.
What I didn’t like was losing [laughs], which only happened one time.
We were the only judo club in the city.
There was a sambo club training at the other end of the city,
and we were invited to compete with them.
We didn’t know they were sambo and didn’t know about the kicks to legs [laughs],
which eventually became the main reason why we lost.
Do you remember whose posters were on your wall?
Who was your role model as a child?
It was Schwarzenegger’s poster, my dad collected those.
And Stallone’s “Rambo”.
These are the two posters that are still there in my room, probably.
As I said, my dad was involved in sports his entire life.
He did weightlifting, sambo, played hockey.
And probably one of the first foreign films that appeared in Russia in 90s
were those with Schwarzenegger and Stallone.
So he got their posters somewhere and hung them in our home.
I guess looking at those posters must have motivated me.
I wanted to be like them, you know, the usual stuff.
There was no way to watch those movies at the time,
we lived in almost a village type place
where the movie theaters wouldn’t screen them.
No Internet or anything.
So I saw the posters, but not the movies [laughs].
How were you get introduced to arm wrestling and what made you pursue this sport?
I was happy with judo and I liked it,
especially when I started showing some progress and wining.
But it just so happened that our school became an evening one,
so we had to look for something else, for a sports club to attend in the morning.
We went to the local Palace of Sports, which only had kettlebell lifting to offer.
There was nothing to choose from.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t like the “kettlebell” name at all,
but the coach was absolutely wonderful.
A man of many talents, so to speak.
In addition to kettlebell, he’d make us busy with all sorts of things.
He just got back from the army and got a job in the Palace of Sports.
We exercised three times a week and the first half-hour was compulsory kettlebell training.
After that, we would do some boxing or swimming, play table tennis or football.
Basically anything that coach had in mind.
And that’s how he got us all attached to him.
It was interesting and fun and I’d go to the palace
five times a week instead of three.
It became my only recreation and I’d exercise for two shifts,
both with my group and the next one, as it was really interesting.
There were very few kettlebell tournaments.
I can only remember the competition held once a year in some institute in our town.
Which means we didn’t travel much.
Today most sport clubs travel around the country,
which is also an additional motivation —
you get to see other athletes, visit other cities.
You start to want to travel and get a glimpse
of other places, other countries.
Meet other athletes to compete with.
Unfortunately all our tournaments took place in one town.
There were money and sponsorship problems at that time.
Indeed, there was very little hoopla.
We’d have a one hour ride on trolley,
wrestle a little in that institute and then go back to club.
Getting the CMS title [Candidate for Master of Sport]
was something you could do in the Palace of Sports and so I did.
You could get one in the presence of the coach
and the director of the Palace.
To receive the Master of Sports title, you had to go to Kiev,
as it was only awarded by the Ministry of Sports.
But there was no money even for that.
And so we were stuck in the same unchanging scenario.
Well, generally, it was fun to just exercise, to be around fellow athletes, all that stuff.
And then at some point we were introduced to…
or better say, our sport was introduced to a new discipline.
We’d never seen it on TV,
and Internet was not really available at the time.
We knew nothing about that sport.
However, there was a champion of some arm sport tournament in the neighboring region who organized his own mini-tournament in town
to find strong athletes who were good at arm wrestling,
in order to later open a new sports club where they could master their technique,
try out the new sport, and maybe take part in more prestigious tournaments in the future.
We all were retrained, in fact, but we never abandoned kettlebells.
The first half an hour has always been kettlebell exercises, always.
We made ourselves an arm wrestling table and started training slowly.
We didn’t have a high-end coach who would teach us properly at that time.
That is, our coach was just mastering this sport as well.
He tried to find someone to consult him, but there was no one to ask, nowhere to read about it.
Not like today when you can dive into Internet, look it up or bother some arm wrestling pro with your questions and get your answers right away, or watch a video of the training.
It was much harder in those days.
So, I guess it all started by my ninth grade,
when I went to the city championship and won. Then went for the championship of Ukraine.
I wouldn’t say it was pure luck, as I worked really hard, but I didn’t have much of technique.
Competing with technical athletes who’d been competing much longer was not easy.
But I won due to strength.
And in the tenth grade I went for the World Cup.
I placed only fifth, but I did enjoy the process, I was training hard.
It was also my first time abroad and I loved it.
That was another appealing side of this sport: you got to travel places.
I did not go anywhere while I was doing kettlebells,
but as an arm wrestler I went to Slovakia.
I got to see a new city, another country.
So I began thinking – rather than staying in our “village”,
it was better to continue to develop so that I would have more chances to see and learn something new.
It motivated me.
I started developing my technique, quite successfully;
I increased my strength abilities, showed good progress in technique,
and thereafter gradually reached my current level.
Who helped you during your growth in this sport and how?
The World Cup in Slovakia was hard for us, money-wise,
and some people we knew who had some extra money
(let’s put it this way) helped us.
And I’m grateful to them. But it was also intimidating.
There was no stability of mind,
no certainty about traveling around much,
you’d have to constantly beg someone for money to go
and then you’d have this pressure to prove something.
And all the while, whenever you go somewhere, you feel you owe it to someone.
It felt wrong to me.
I believed the athletes who show good results in city level championship should be paid.
It was hard.
And so after the eleventh grade, I came to Moscow
where I had no place to train and knew no one.
I came to study and that’s probably when I changed my mind about these things.
I thought to myself: I don’t need all this begging, there’s no point.
And so I chilled out a little.
I focused on work and on my studies.
Basically, I forgot all about the tournaments.
I started growing. When I first moved here, I did not control my weight class.
Started fattening up [laughs] and gained some weight,
but at the same time I engaged in some physical activity.
Had enough of it at work: it was a physical job, I was a loader.
I tried to keep myself in good shape,
but there was no coach by my side,
nobody to pressure and prompt me.
It was hard.
A year later my old coach from my native town got in touch with me
and asked if I wanted to try for the Ukrainian championship.
I was still a junior, it was my last junior year.
As my coach called, and I sort of missed him,
I thought to myself – why not?
I packed my bags, went to the Ukranian championship, and won it.
Then they found money for me to take part in the European Championship,
which I went for and won.
And so I realized that it was not all that bad —
a year before that I competed in the 65 kg category,
and by the time of the European championship
I weighed 90 and made it to the under 80 category,
again taking first place.
I believed I was doing the right thing,
I was moving in the right direction,
even without any outside prompting.
Well, I was showing more progress
and participated in Moscow competitions.
I found a gym to exercise here
and sort of returned into arm wrestling.
I started growing and focusing more on the exercises
which I needed to prepare for competitions.
I made some connections with people in Moscow who would envite me
to participate in tournaments.
You can say I was back on a certain stage,
but I traveled very little and not very far,
because I could only do it at my own expense.
I knew there were much more competitions
in Moscow than we had back home.
Here in Moscow I’d have more chances to compete and enjoy the fight,
enjoy what I was doing.
My next step was becoming a coach
at the Marcus Aurelius fitness club, working for Turchinsky.
That’s when I moved away from arm wrestling,
even though they had an arm wrestling table in the club and all the equipment,
still I got retrained and I got into strongman competitions.
At that time, Turchinsky began actively promoting it in Russia,
and it just so happened that I was closest at hand.
He’d always call me and bring me with him to perform,
and I understood it was necessary to exercise further in other directions.
Hands alone were not enough, I needed to develop the whole base:
legs, back and everything else.
We had our share of fun. I performed for about five years.
I came to strongman weighing 90 and after five years,
due to my overall development, my weight was up to 140.
I became much stronger all over,
and so I was a completely different, a much stronger athlete
when I returned to arm wrestling.
How did strongman competitions come to Russia?
At the time when I started training, there was no strongman sport in Russia yet.
Turchinsky traveled around the world and competed in this sport abroad.
It had not yet become popular in Russia.
And then, somewhere around 2002, the commotion started.
I worked for him as a coach and he invited me to compete.
Let’s just say, I was half decent at it.
We kept on going, and later the league was established,
and Turchinsky essentially brought me into it.
It was not me coming to the already existing P.L.S.E. –
Turchinsky was only setting a base for strongman in Russia when I came along.
At what point did you feel you had become a professional?
Well, as for strongman competitions,
when the P.L.S.E. league was established,
some sort of scholarships became available.
The prize money was also good.
We actually began to make some money.
At the same time, the league started recruiting good athletes from all over Russia
who would represent the country at the world championships.
I realized I was part of a team.
I was getting some kind of scholarship
and prize money I could live on.
I knew that I just needed to train hard and keep growing in that direction
in order for this to go on.
And who is a professional, exactly?
Someone who makes money from the sport he does.
While I didn’t have this in arm wrestling,
I got there when doing strongman.
I sort of put arm wrestling to the side.
Strongman was at the foreground –
the city of Syktyvkar became interested in me
and so I received some money to represent them.
I had no idea how long it would last,
but at least at that point everything was great.
Why did you leave strongman and return to arm wrestling?
Well, the league was commercial,
everything depended on one businessman,
it was not state supported.
Unfortunately, our sponsor was knocked down hard by the economic crisis
and had to drop the league and stop helping it or engaging in its activities.
The league was no longer organizing any competitions in Russia.
The usual strongman shows and competitions still exist today,
but the P.L.S.E. organization seized to exist, unfortunately.
I’ll say it again – it only happened because everything
rested on the shoulders of one businessman whom no one helped.
He was investing his own money.
Unfortunately, a crisis can hit anyone.
Did you have any disappointments in sports?
Well, of course, there were certain moments which I did not enjoy,
but that should all remain in the past [laughs],
as I don’t want to bring it back.
Of course there were misunderstandings,
there were moments when you’d want to let it all hang out
and just leave to be a coach and worry about nothing.
I had such moments, of course, quite a few times,
but I don’t like to think about them.
This brings me back to how I returned to arm wrestling.
When they first called me back I was still doing strongman training,
so I said no. But a year later it all stopped.
Turchinsky left, and he was supporting me the most,
he’d always put in a good word for me and defend me.
He’d often choose to invite me when he wouldn’t take any other athlete.
After he left, I did not have that support anymore.
The P.L.S.E. was gone, there were no shows.
And I decided to go back to arm wrestling, because
a year before that they called me to take part in a tournament.
I realized that I should take a shot
since there was nothing left to do in Moscow.
It was quite a nice return, so to speak.
I’m glad it all turned out this way.
I was still better and achieved much more in arm wrestling than in the strongman competition.
What would you consider your greatest achievement in sport?
Again, as I said, I had different goals every year.
That is, after I reached a certain goal,
I would naturally set myself another one.
I’m glad to have won many professional arm-wrestling tournaments.
As for strongman, I never went further than Russian championships, unfortunately.
But the title of a medalist and multiple winner of Russian Cups
is not a bad thing, I think. It could have been better, though,
if that still went on.
Who is Denis Cyplenkov, in your own words?
Shoot, well… I don’t know.
A guy who will always find himslef something to do,
regardless of what is happening around him.
That is, if it’s not arm wrestling, it’s strongman.
If it’s not strongman, it’s bench-pressing.
If not bench-pressing, then…
I love sports and I enjoy taking part in competitions and achieving good results,
because only in competition you can let out all the power
and the energy that built up during training.
So when there was no opportunity to compete for strongman,
I would look for different paths and try them out.
I tried all sorts of things and was good at each.
I realized that no matter what sport I took up,
someone who is interested and has a goal to win
will always have his chance.
This is true of me, at least, because I’ve achieved good results in everything.
In your opinion, what qualities helped you succeed?
I’m probably stubborn, and I always want to prove something to someone.
Perhaps to myself, above all.
Once I take something on, I have to do it well.
That’s what my father taught me — once you start something, stay with it until the end.
That was the message.
I am very hardworking when it comes to gym.
I know you need to work your butt off to achieve something.
So here you are: hard-nosed and hardworking.
Maybe a little bit lucky.
Luck has always accompanied me in many ways.
This is also important.
Luck in the tournament draws, in some life situations,
and in the way everything is unfolding now —
it all led me to what I am now because I probably was a bit lucky.
Again, the fact that at some point I met Turchinsky,
and the fact that I then went back to arm wrestling
and met the right people like coach Kote Razmadze.
I believe there is a connection in all of this
and luck, or fortune, has played a big part. “
#T8P production x Denis Ciplenkov
Source: T8P production