Aleksandr Ivanitskyvanitsky, who also won four other gold medals in freestyle world wrestling, was reported dead by the official Russian TASS news agency on Sunday, July 26. He was 82.
Born in Donetsk, Oblast in 1937, Ivanitsky won gold in men's freestyle for the Soviet Union at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic, as well a gold medal for his home country at the World Championships in 1962, 1963, 1965 and 1966.
Ivanitsky studied at the Russian State University of Physical Education in 1966 and earned formal journalism qualifications at the capital's Academy of Social Sciences in 1979, having been appointed chief editor of the main sports programs of the Gosteleradio broadcasting empire, according to Inside the Games.
Ivanitsky also counted among his friends with fellow Tokyo 1964 Olympic wrestling champion Alexander Medved, who went on to win two more Olympic gold medals and is considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
"With great regret I learned about what happened, he was a strong, powerful, healthy person who seriously observed the regime, looked after himself," Medved told Inside The Games.
"I'm just surprised.
"How could this happen."
"Until recently, we hoped for a miracle -- but unfortunately a real tragedy has happened," Mikhail Mamiashvili, the president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, told TASS.
"This is an immeasurable loss for his family, wife, son and granddaughters. Ivanitsky belonged to the heroic people who were children of war, with a heightened sense of pride and an understanding that they represent a great victorious nation.
"There was a red thread running through his entire life. This feeling of colossal responsibility, understanding the country they represent, shapes people like him.
"This is one of the foundations of our domestic sport - particularly wrestling. This is our great heritage and a blessed memory."