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Passings | Boris Shakhlin

Olympic gymnast won 13 medals

June 03, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Boris Shakhlin, 76, who won a record six individual Olympic gymnastics men's gold medals, died Friday of cardiac arrest, the International Gymnastics Federation announced.

Shakhlin, nicknamed the "Mask of Iron," won 13 Olympic medals overall as part of the Soviet gymnastics squads that battled Japan in the 1950s and 1960s in one of gymnastics' great rivalries. He also was the world champion in 1958.

At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Shakhlin helped the Soviets edge Japan for the team gold and won a second gold on pommel horse. Four years later in Rome, Japan won the first of five straight team golds, but it was Shakhlin who was the Games' biggest star.

He won the all-around title and three other gold medals on parallel bars, vault and pommel horse. He won a silver in the team competition and another on rings and added a bronze on high bar. His seven medals in Rome tie him for second most by an athlete at a single Games.

Shakhlin won another gold medal, on high bar, at the 1964 Games, as well as silvers in the all-around and team competition and a bronze on rings.

He retired in 1966 and later coached in Ukraine and served as an international judge. He was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2002.

He was born in the Russian west Siberian town of Ishim on Jan. 27, 1932, and moved to Ukraine in the early 1950s.

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