Sunday, May 19

Gyumri – the sports capital of the Commonwealth

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Gyumri is the sports capital of the Commonwealth

Gyumri has been declared the sports capital of the CIS in 2024. The main forge of the famous Armenian champions has taken over the baton from Minsk. The official opening ceremony will take place on May 24. Residents and guests of the northern capital of Armenia will be presented with a rich program with sports performances and concert performances. A meeting of the Council for Physical Culture and Sport of the CIS member states will also be held as part of the events. The delegation of the Commonwealth countries will also visit a number of Gyumri sports facilities and get acquainted with the training process of local athletes. A forum on the theme “Sport for all and global achievements” is also planned.

What is Gyumri famous for?

Gyumri is more than two and a half thousand years old, and it has a special flavor. It is a city with an ancient and tragic history, rich traditions and hospitable people. Here, as many years ago, doors, gates, fences, street lights are made by hand from oak and iron, decorated with national ornaments. The city is home to numerous dynasties of artisans.

“The secrets of craftsmanship in our family are passed down from generation to generation. The blacksmith, as an artist, only works with metal, using imagination, improvising. We keep the Gyumri style by decorating the products with ornaments in the form of vines, pomegranates, crosses, birds,” says blacksmith Garik Bavoyan.


The historical center of the city “Kumairi” is an open–air museum, a favorite place for tourists. Houses with columns, balustrades, carved balconies. Instead of asphalt, there are paving stones, and a map of the city is engraved on the road hatches. During the Soviet years, many famous films were shot here. The Frunzik Mkrtchyan Museum is also located here.

The business card of Gyumri is numerous churches and museums. One of the most popular is the “Museum of Folk Architecture and Urban Life”, located in a mansion built 152 years ago. The house belonged to the famous Dzitokhtsyan merchant family. Nearby is the house museum of the People’s Artist of the USSR Sergei Merkurov. He is known for making death masks of Tolstoy, Mayakovsky, Bulgakov, Tumanyan.

“Merkurov was also known for being very sociable, loved life and people. In his house in Izmailovo, as soon as they sat down at the table, at least 50 people were sitting, and academicians, marshals and his workers were sitting next to him,” says Arshak Manukyan, head of the Sergei Merkurov House Museum.

The Gyumri people who glorified Armenia all over the world. The Wizard of the Leather Ball

Levon Ishtoyan is a name associated not only with football, but also with his hometown – Gyumri. Champion and winner of the USSR Cup, three times included in the list of the 33 best football players of the Union. He played his best match in 1973 in the Cup final against Dynamo Kyiv. He scored both goals, and his “Ararat” won. Many boys in the yard football began to imitate the manner of his game. Then Ishtoyan became perhaps the most popular Armenian of the USSR…


The Conqueror of Libra

Yuri Vardanyan’s popularity in Armenia was incredible. He is a seven-time world champion, a five-time winner of the European Championship and a triumphant of the 1980 Olympics. In Moscow, he won a gold medal and updated five world records. In total, in his career, Yuri Vardanyan has established 43 highest achievements of the planet, many of them have not yet been beaten.

“He is the first middleweight in the world to surpass the 400-kilogram barrier. He was a beacon in sports, everyone looked up to him. And the fact that many Armenian athletes, and especially weightlifters, became champions after him is a great merit of Yuri Vardanyan,” says Honorary Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia Derenik Gabrielyan.

Yuri Vardanyan opened the way to big-time sports for many guys. A school named after him has been built in Gyumri. Olympic champion, multiple world record holder Israel Militosyan, world champion and three-time winner of the European championship Tigran Martirosyan, Olympic bronze medalist and two-time European champion Gevorg Davtyan, world and European champion Hakob Mkrtchyan came out of it.

“It is a great honor to study at the legendary Yuri Vardanyan School, it is doubly motivating. I dream of becoming as famous and winning the Olympic Games,” says a graduate of the weightlifting school named after him. Yuri Vardanyan, Armenian champion Aleksan Poghosyan.


Knight of Athletics

Everything related to Armenian athletics is, first of all, Honored Master of Sports of the USSR Robert Emmian. He was the European champion and silver medalist in the long jump, twice champion of the European Athletics Indoor Championships. Emmian set 6 records for Europe, the Goodwill Games and the Znamensky Brothers Memorial. Since 2010, Robert Emmian has been the head of the Armenian Athletics Federation.

Wrestling carpet in Gyumri colors

Gyumri is also glorified by wrestlers on the world stage. Mnatsakan Iskandaryan is one of the most titled. Olympic champion, three-time winner of the World Championship and two-time European champion, Honored Master of Sports of the USSR and Honored Coach of Russia. Since 1996, he has been the head coach of the Russian youth national Greco-Roman wrestling team. In 2012, Mnatsakan Iskandaryan was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Federation of United Wrestling Styles.

Levon Julfalakyan is another famous classical wrestler from Gyumri. He has won the Olympic Games, the World and European Championships. After completing his career, he led the national team for 20 years. Julfalakyan’s son also followed in his footsteps. Arsen Julfalakyan won gold at the world and European championships, and silver at the Olympic Games. In 2012, he was recognized as the best athlete in the country.

Young followers of glorious traditions

Gyumri is also called the forge of boxers. The most famous Gyumri ring master of our time is Hovhannes Bachkov. The Olympic bronze medalist has written his name into history by becoming the third Armenian boxer to win three European championships. Now Bachkov also performs in the professional ring. And there he has solid victories: five, and four by knockout.

“Bachkov is a great master. He sees the ring perfectly, reads the opponent perfectly and knows when and where to add or put the squeeze on,” says Karen Agamalyan, head coach of the Armenian boxing team.

Another hero, a native of Gyumri, is known all over the world. He is the pride of independent Armenia. Greco-Roman wrestler Artur Aleksanyan has already become a legend of the sport at the age of 32. He is the most decorated Armenian athlete of the 21st century: winner of Olympic medals of all merits, 4-time world champion and 7-time European champion. Artur Aleksanyan is called a “polar bear” for his strength, powerful physique and light hair color.

“I am happy to be the father of a multiple champion. Arthur is very patient: more than once he went out on the carpet with an injury, overcoming the pain, and fought to the end. In training and competitions, I look at him through the eyes of a coach in order to objectively see all his advantages and disadvantages. But when Arthur stands on the podium after the victory, then, first of all, as a father, I look at him and am proud,” says the athlete’s father, coach of the Armenian national Greco–Roman wrestling team Gevorg Aleksanyan.

Gyumri’s status as the sports capital of the CIS-2024 will enhance Armenia’s rich sports heritage, and guests of the city will be able to get acquainted with the unique architecture, interesting way of life, delicious cuisine and mentality of the Gyumri people.



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