The Legend of the Kettlebell
Legend has it that In 1704, Vladimir Nebkoff was 15 years old when he began working for his father’s grocery store in Saint Petersburg, Russia…
Unlike his older brothers and the other men in his family he wasn’t built to be strong. He was a scrawny kid that could barely carry 2 large sacks of potatoes into the store without needing a break, while his brothers could haul around 5-6 bags without breaking a sweat.
Vlad sulked in his self-defeat...until one day…
A man walked into his father’s store whose sheer presence shook the ground beneath him.
This was Igor the Invincible and boy, did this mountain of a man live up to his name.
Igor was known for his incredible feats of strength. Since the age of 18, he had won every stone lifting competition that existed in Russia.
As Igor was rummaging around the aisles of the store he turned a corner to find Vlad frozen in place, staring directly at him.
Igor could tell Vlad was of the family - he had his father’s eyes. But, he was also keenly aware that he was much meeker than the rest and could see the shame in the boy’s eyes. Igor stepped forward and said:
“How old are you, son?”
Barely able to make a sound, Vladimir responded, “fifteen.”
Igor cracked a smile. He went into his pocket, took out his wallet and in his hand appeared a drawing of a young boy that looked just like Vlad: scrawny and ashamed.
“You see this drawing, boy?” Handing the art piece to the young man, “This is me, when I was just about your age.”
Igor continued, “I was weak and afraid. But I decided I would choose my own destiny. So, I trained everyday - mostly with my body, until I became strong enough to throw stones or carry goats on my back for miles.”
He knelt down and in his final statement to the young boy he said, “You have the power to choose your own destiny, do you understand?”
But where to start?
Vlad did body-weight exercises day and night.
Soon he would master his body and move onto odd objects - curling 2 large potato sacks in his hands.
There was no doubt Vlad was growing. Everyone was noticing, but by this point he was obsessed with strength and wanted to do something that would shock everyone around him.
In the olden days, whenever people would come to the store to buy goods in bulk they couldn’t just simply weigh it on a scale - They placed the bulk on market scales and used handled counterweights to weigh it out.
These handled counterweights would become Vlad’s weapon of choice. He began swinging them, pressing them, even throwing them! What’s impressive about all of this is that these counterweights were HEAVY, weighing in at almost 20kg!
No one up until this point had ever seen such a thing and people were fascinated. From all around the country people came to see this young man - who was once not even able to carry a couple bags of potatoes, perform spectacular stunts of strength.
These handled counterweights are known today as kettlebells. You can find them in your local gym, in sports training facilities and you can compete in Kettlebell Sport internationally.
If this legend is true, you can thank Vladimir Nebkoff for it - the boy seemingly destined for weakness turned out to be the catalyst for one of the most admired tools of strength in the world.
For this, he should be honored.