Norbert Schemansky (b. 1924) is considered the greatest lifter in the history of US Olympic weightlifting. As a member of a legendary Bob Hoffman team, he won four Olympic medals in the event, thrice placed first in worlds, thrice a runner up and was Pan American champion. Schemansky faced considerable competition at every meet. His battles with his Soviet counterpart, Yuri Vlasov, are the stuff legends are made of. Indeed, he faced formidable challenges off the platform; he underwent two major back surgeries. After his second, his doctors told him that he would be lucky to walk again, but he made a full recovery and went on to win a Bronze medal at the age of thirty-eight. Eventually, the years caught up with him: it became increasingly difficult for Schemansky to beat lifters fifteen years younger and forty or more pounds heavier than him. In 1972, after twenty-six years of weightlifting, injury forced the old master into retirement.
Ironically, although he won four Olympic medals, yet he lives is absolute anonymity. Never did the people in his home country pay him any respect for any of his remarkable feats. To the average American, weightlifting just didn't, and still doesn't matter at all. Schemansky's return home from the 1952 Olympic Games was microcosmic for his entire career: Schemansky arrived home at the airport with a Gold medal in his bag, yet no one was there to greet him. In fact, no one even recognized him, save a porter who said, "nice going Mr. Schemansky." He had to take a bus home that day.