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Alexander Sizonenko

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  • Alexander Sizonenko

    I watched a documentary (sort-off anyway) about Alexander Sizonenko οn his post-basketball life on Channel 1 the other night and I gotta say I was sick at heart.

    Alexander Sizonenko was a Ukrainian basketball player and even played in the USSR National Team. He was (and is) a real giant.

    How can a whole state, a whole basketball federation, all the Russian multimillionaire basketball players let a man to slowly die in a basement of Saint Petersburg?

    Sizonenko is a one of a kind case as he still keeps growing at the age of 48 and is now 241 cm!!! (Some suggest that he has gained some more height since he was last measured)

    Gunther von Hagens offered to buy his body for a monthly check of $150 but he refused...

    The poor guy still wears his Soviet era pants because he can't find new pants at his size and he can't afford to order one.

    From wikipedia:

    Alexander Alekseyevich Sizonenko (Russian: Александр Алексеевич Сизоненко;born July 20, 1959 in the village Zaporizhia, Kherson Oblast, Ukrainian SSR) is a giant, last measured at 239 centimetres (7 ft 10 in), a former Soviet basketball player. Sizonenko has continued to grow since this measurement was taken. Sizonenko formerly played basketball for the Soviet Union but because of his enormous growth his mobility is increasingly impaired. He got an offer from plastinator Gunther von Hagens for his body but he declined the offer. He played professionally for Spartak Leningrad (1976–1978) and for Builder Kiev (1979–1986). Sizonenko was also a member of the Soviet national team and appeared on its behalf for 12 games. He now lives in Saint Petersburg.

    Originally posted by parso
    Gomelsky doesn't know @@@@ about basketball
    Originally posted by sseppel
    it's not asking too much for someone to know where the fuck he is.
    Originally posted by UMUT_FB_LAL
    Scola makes me wanna touch myself, no homo

  • #2
    I think most of the former USSR giant have been, thrown to the dogs, so to speak, after the disillusion of the soviet union.
    Tkachenko, bellostenny, all these guys.
    Its very sad to see that in a era in which equivalent players such a Savrashenko earn a 1.5mil$ a year and even a guy like Pavel Podkolzin is drafted in the first round (I guess his current Russian team doesn't pay him in peanuts), that this guys are in such grim condition.


    • #3
      last I heard he isn't exactly a taxi driver, but he is a courier for one of Shabaty Kalmanovich's business's ןn Moscow, and in charge of CSKA veterans team. On the other hand, that was six years ago...
      Here an Hebrew Article about published with him before the 2001 Suproleague final four:

      "A giant with a broken hart"
      Vladimir Takachenko, 51, the Mustached giant who the archival of Israeli bball in the 70s and 80s, works as a minor courier in the tourism company of the former spy Shabtay Kalmanovich, in Moscow
      sic transit gloria mundi.
      Vladimir Takachenko, 51, the Mustached giant who the archival of Israeli bball in the 70s and 80s, works as a minor courier in the tourism company belonging to the former spy Shabtay Kalmanovich, in Moscow. An attempt to locate the 222 cm giant Ukrainian who stared for CSKA Moscow and the soviet union reveals that he Marley an memoir in the Israeli consciousness, today. Also in Russia, It appeared, he got attention mostly because of his height. There is almost nothing that remains from his playing days.
      So much is Takachenko was forgotten, that the mission of locating the player this week turned to an almost impossible mission. Even Russian sport journalist didn't knew who it was about. Some of them were convinced that the matter of inquiry is a Ukrainian women bball player, who bares the same surname (no relation) and stars in the Russian league.
      Back then. Behind the Iron curtain that covered Europe lied the Soviet "evil Empire", that we loved so much to hate. Back then, when the whole country sat in front of the TV screens Thursday nights cheering for the country's favorite team. Back then, in the days that Maccabi Tel Aviv's encounters with the "Russian bear" were a real National assignment, Takachenko, a likable man with a golden heart, as it is turns out today, embodied the perfect cast for the Enemy of the state.
      The character of Takachenko is so much engraved in the Israeli memoir, that even this days The Israeli version of "Spitting Image" puppet of Avigdor Liberman is only called by its first name-Vladimir. Another recalection of the terrifying giant mustached, fear casting character, who stared in the early 80's-in the nightmares of not so few children.
      Takachenko supports himself today from his work as a courier and a small military pension (playing for CSKA, team of the red army, was considered as a military service), lives in a modest flat in Moscow with his wife and young son and drives an old and small Lada, in which he is forced to move the driver's seat way back but still suffers from density.
      He earns a small wage, only a few hundreds of dollars and lives a relatively hard-pressed life in comparison to former star.
      According to Mickey Berkovich, who he recently met in Turkey at the EuroBasket drew, The giant Russian looked quit sad and didn't really communicate with those around him. Berkovich:"They invited all of Europe's former stars for this drew. we were the ones that took the drew balls out. Only Takachenko didn't manage to reach for the ball, that so tiny in comparison to his giant palm. That was the first time I saw him since the 80s and I was very excited, but we didn't really get to talk. We spent the next couple of days like this, without saying a word".
      Life. so its seems, hasn't really smiling for Takachenko since his retirement.
      In spite of the great honor that he brought his country during his military service at CSKA and national team appearances, he got a tiny pension and had to work odd jobs, as a souvenirs salesman and a private taxi driver.
      alone of the economic problems, TKachencko suffered from back problems (caused by erosion). Nevertheless, in our conversation this week he succeeds, it seems, to remain basically optimist (at least from the inside out) and getting used to life as a john doe.
      "The Bed is Too short"
      This week, after finaly being located at Kalmanovich's tourism firm, Tkachenko sounds pleased from the fact that in Israel there is still a worm peace of nostalgia saved for him in our hearts. In 89', he visited Israel for the first time, as a gesture for former stars of CSKA, Tkachenko looked out of place already then, alone, and not really attached socially to the rest of the players.
      In an Interview he gave then, he was revealed as gentle man, that in heart tearing moment, confessed:"I don't understand why people are afraid of me. I give my hand to shack and they back away". Even in his luxurious hotel room Tkachenko didn't really find rest, and had to spent the nights with his legs sticking out of a bed smaller them his measurements. Today, Tkachenko prefers to remember the nicest moments of that visit.
      Q :Hello Vladimir Tkachenko, this is "Tel Aviv paper" from Israel, how are you
      VT:"Ok, very well"
      Q o you even remember us?
      VT:"Yeah, sure. I remember Israel in very good sensation. My visit was absolutely amazing. After all the stories we heard about the Israelis and Israel, we came to an amazing place, that didn't resemble what we expect at all, and I already had got to visit many places in the world. I came to you after the Perestroika and I was axcepted in a manor like no other place. Tal Brody and Mickey Berkovich treated me like their brother. Besides, we got around in Tel Aviv a little. and that is, In my opinion, one of the beautiful cities in Europe.
      I really hope I could come and visit again.
      Q :what are you doing today?
      VT:"I was discharged from the army bearing the rank of Captain, and I receive a small pension from the army. besides, I make a living as a courier driver in a tourism company. I drive around a move money. Working for Kalmanovich really helped me. First I drove a really, really small vehicle. Now I drive a Lada, which is still not that comfortable, I have to move the seat all the way back, and even then I don't have much room, even when I drive almost laying down.
      Q :And how is the family?
      VT:"The children, I'm afraid, didn't turn out to be as tall as their father. The elder is 23 and is only 195 cm high. he was sick and had to undergo a open heart surgery, so he doesn't really get to practice sports. My other son, Igor, is 15 and he does play bball. He also is not that tall, only 190 cm, and plays as SG in a youth team. I have a good feeling about him, but I dont want to jinx him. he is still young.
      Q :Are you still involved in bball?
      VT:"Yes. Not that long ago, Just now, I was appointed as in charge of Russian bball veterans team. Its official work under the supervision of the RFB, and I take it as serious as possible. Also CSKA keep on sending me tickets for their games recently, and last I got see that not so few many times".
      Q :What is really the situation of the rest of your veterans?
      VT:"Sergei Belov, who was captain of the national team, serves as head coach at Orlograd in the city of Perm and he is settled well in life. Miloserdov now does business and his son plays at the same position as the father (SG) at Antibes in France. Segei Tarakanov is a player's agent and Stanislav Yeremin now coaches Kazan from the Super league. Anatoly myshkin was the CSKA women coach, but was sacked do to a dispute he had with Alexander Gomelsky. Myshkin has a rough character, that what probably caused the dispute".
      Q :How is really Sasha Gomelsky, who what your coach at CSKA?
      VT:"He is the president of CSKA Moscow, he manages everybody and revolves the whole world on his little finger. Today is is married to a 32 year old, so his not doing bad in life. He is an Antipathic person, but he always did well with women, probably because of his status. He is the most powerful persona in Russian bball."
      Q : Did you keep in touch with one of them?
      VT:"No, not really. Already then we were a grup off players rounded up from all of the corners of the USSR for one team of the army. Maybe because of this nobody liked us. Not just at Israel, but even in country they hated us. They booed us after games we won, especially in Lithuania, because of the great rivalry with had with Zalgiris Kaunas."
      Q :And what of the colleagues from Israel, did you remain in touch with one of them?
      VT:"I try to follow them, but we are not really in touch. I was with good relation with them and happy to see them when I visited Israel. I really would like to return to Israel, and I hope than know the contact will be reestablished because of the veterans team. Maybe we will organize a team and travel to Israel or maybe you will come here. Say, you don't have a veterans team?
      Maybe we could arrange a game. I met Mickey Berkovich in Turkey, and I didn't understand from him If you have a veterans team or not".
      "Jersey no. 4"
      As remembered, the entire country withhold its breath in the struggle between Maccabi Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow at Virton in 77' (in which, BTW, Tkachenko didn't participated) and in the Final of the European national championship at Turin in 79', when the Israeli nation team stunned everybody and qualified for the final against the USSR. Tkachenko himself doesn't really remembers all the details of the struggles against maccabi the Israeli national team. The common Image those days what the one of David and Goliath, not less. A mythological struggle to the live or death of the little and bold David against The strong, intimidating, mustached, heavy Goliath. Tkachenko former teammate, Sergei Tarakanov, who today serves as a player's agent, remembers to this fondly:"Tkachenko was very important part of our team. We were based upon him because our coach, Alexander Gomelsky, liked to play with bid strong pivots. He stood out in the European games, and the national team ows him a lot in debt. Looking back, you discover many disadvantages at him but generally speaking he was a team oriented clever player, standing out in his dish back pass to the smaller players. Additionally, he had a medium range shooting".
      Q :Vladimir Tkachenko, what do you remember from the struggles against the Israelis?
      VT:"From the final game that was in Turin, I dont remember much. I only remember that we were afraid of the Israelis and wouldn't allowed to talk with them. After the Final the wall came tumbling down, and we managed to sit and drink with them, and even exchange some words. Proffeisonaly, I remember Barry Leibovich, that was one level above the rest. The Israelis were excellent guys and some, I don't remember who, gave me his jersey. It was a number 4 jersey, which I keep to this day".
      Q :And the rest of the struggles?
      VT:"No, I don't remember much from the games themselves".
      Barry Leibovich, Calling from the USA, was surprised to hear that Tkachenko mentioned him as the most valuable player.
      Leibovich:"Are your sure that he didn't confuse me with somebody else? he was a giant. Its very sham full that he has to work as a courier, well that way it is in Russia, they don't have any money. Why don't you bring him do Israel, let him make some tall babies".
      The years past maybe dimmed the memory of the giant Ukrainian, but didn't sever his knowledge and bball understanding. He still follows the team in which he played more then a decade ago, and his happy to share us with his profound opinion on it.
      Tkachenko:"From the beginning of the season the objective of CSKA is to reach the final four, and they succeeded in that. Thats why will have no pressure against maccabi, and that could act in their favor. Only Europe interests them, the league doesn't even count from their part. In that extant, that they come for league games and lose time after time. And they dont just lose, they lose by 20 and 30 pts every game"
      Q :How does their first lineup look like?
      VT:"We are talking about a very good team, that will give maccabi a very hard time in the semi final. For maccabi their will be trouble in the defensive rebound and also in offensive rebound. CSKA has Fettisov and Kirilensko, which has long arms, and they will give Huffman and churchich trouble".
      Q :and the backcourt?
      VT:"CSKA backcourt is very tough and guards well on defense. Padius, Alanovich and Domani can neutralize maccabi's backcourt. Overall, I believe that it is going to be interesting, in one game everything is open.
      Q :How do you evaluate the chances of CSKA?
      VT:"See, two weeks ago I was pessimist, but now I believe the odds are 50% for each one of the two teams".
      Q :What made you change your mind?
      VT:"The fact that CSKA is an unpredictable team. All Slavs are like that, you know, unpredictable".
      Q :And did you get to see maccabi Tel Aviv this year?
      VT:"I didn't got a chance to see that this year, but I follow that via written press releases. Im well aware that this is a good and very strong team".
      It is still unclear if Tkachenko will be able to watch the current encounter between maccabi and CSKA. The game will be broadcasted in the sports channel of NTV (which, BTW belongs to the multi millionaire Vladimir Gusunsky), and watching it requires a special pay. At any case, the sensation that we got at the end of the conversation is that in the semi final the Ukrainian will have his fingers crossed for the yellow team, for which he feels more sympathy then for his former team.

      I think he lucky in comparison to the others.
      Last edited by ArnoldPettybone; 12-19-2007, 06:41 PM.


      • #4
        It's really a pity to see Sizonenko living in such conditions. If I recall it well the Soviet Union invested a great deal in sports, sportsmen and sportswomen were sometimes treated as demigods there, and now there are cases as Sizonenko's and Tkatchenko's. Even nowadays Russian sports are one of the best in the world, Russians are classic winners in some of them, I just can't understand how it could come to this.
        Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
        Artificial Nature


        • #5
          I do remember reading that Tkachenko played with a few fingers missing on his hand, so you really got to praise him for making it on the national team. The few times I've seen him play, I thought he was a bit slow, but who had no problem stuffing the ball in when under the basket. Coach Gomelski always preferred the lumbering giants that took up a lot of space under the basket at center instead of a smaller more agile player(for instance, America's Dave Cowens, at the time) For that reason, Tkachenko did well.
          I was wondering how Tkachenko is rated against some of the other Soviet era centers? Obviously Sabonis was the greatest ever. But was Tkachenko better than the other 80's centers like Belosteny and Gaborov? and how would he fared against the early 70's USSR NT centers like Sergie Korelenko and Ivan Divorni?(I remember those 2 for having decent hook shots)


          • #6
            From what I remember (I am 34 now) when Sabas first met Tkachenka in court he was overpowered by huge margin – few years down the stretch – and Tkachenka was shooting 5-6 footers .Goborov was more agile ,plus CSKA got Volkov and Tichonenko . Sabas was playing with one leg .And was overpowering them the same he was before – but this time I didn’t think it was unfair.
            My father told me the story of how in Kaunas Dinamo arena Sizonenko was warming up and upon stretching grabbed the top edge of the balcony in second floor .Maybe there was someone else the same size, I just don’t remember .
            And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Zalgiris 17 times in a row.


            • #7
              Sizonenko died yesterday at the age of 52.
              Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
              Artificial Nature


              • #8
                Alexander Sizonenko is giant. Sizonenko was born in the city of Zaporizhia, Ukrainian SSR. Possibly the tallest person to have ever played professional basketball, he was measured by Guinness World Records at 2.45 m (8 ft 0 in) and named the world's tallest man in 1991. Sizonenko was said to have grown since this measurement was taken, although age reduced his standing height considerably. Because of his enormous growth, his mobility was increasingly impaired.



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