Video Article

To hear Albert Azaryan tell the story, you’d think he was just doing his due diligence.

At the 1953 U.S.S.R. Championship, while holding an iron cross on the rings, he actually checked in with the judges to see if he was meeting the standards for the movement.

“I would turn my face to the left and the right, and I asked the judges, ‘Is it enough holding the cross?’ And they said, ‘Yes.’ And I turned back the same way and asked the two judges behind me, and they said the same thing: ‘Yes,’” he says in Armenian while at the Albert Azaryan Youth Gymnastic School in Yerevan, Armenia.

Still, the judges disqualified him for talking during his performance. They later reinstated him, asking him to compete in the world championships.

Since then, his “slanted cross” became known as the Azaryan cross, a rarely seen variation that incorporates a quarter turn to the side.

“No one can perform it correctly,” he says. “My son tried to do it, and it was not what it should be.”

Azaryan the elder won gold on the still rings in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics, and he was the first two-time Olympic champion on the rings. His son, Eduard, won a gold medal in the team all-around competition in the 1980 Olympics.

Video by Matt Krautstrunk and Sevan Matossian.

7min 5sec

HD file size: 130 MB
SD mov file size: 89 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: Scaling up CrossFit Workouts With Rings by Tyler Hass, published May 1, 2008.

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5 Comments on “Albert Azaryan: Lord of the Rings”


wrote …

Is there any further reading on how to train for holding the standard cross??


wrote …

Thank you Sevan and CrossFit HQ, once again. Beautifully done: this is a lovely little film, a peek into the past, the present and quite possibly the future. I have always loved the knowledge base, the "insight and learning" aspect of CF, and this is a fine example of all three. Cheers!


wrote …

Indeed, this is a beautiful and inspiring story.



wrote …

That is a wonderful video. The pursuit of excellence back then was so pure. I always enjoy your work!


Chris Cavallerano wrote …

Sh'norhakal em Sevan and Matt for sharing your gift by bringing to life, and to the CrossFit community, such wonderful examples of athletic and cultural heroes like the amazing Albert Azaryan. We'll have to try an upright piano at the gym instead of Pandora next time! ;-)

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