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Bozhidar Russev | Hrabrina Hrabrova Spencer

Bozhidar "Bozhi" Russev

Bozhidar Russev wass born in Sliven, Bulgaria November 7, 1941. He was a member of the Bulgarian National Gymnastics Team from 1960-1966, and 1968-1970. In 1966, Russev spent two years employed under work contract with then Soviet Union (Russia) in the government headquarters of Cirqus as a sports acrobat and high bars. He has participated (as a gymnast) in numerous national and international tournaments over the years, including an unforgettable achievement in 1962 as the Bulgarian National Champion.

1964 brought the Olympic Games to Tokyo, Japan. But due to a traumatizing shoulder joint, Russev was not able to compete in the games. In 1969, he graduated with his Master’s Degree from the National Sports Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria. Many years went by with traveling, competing and training. Unfortunately, in 1970, Russev was forced to retire early in his career due to the shoulder traumas he had suffered. He turned to coaching, and coached a boys gymnastics. From 1977-1978, Russev was the head coach in the Specialized Sports School, also in Varna, Bulgaria. From 1972-1978, he was the boys gymnastics coach for 6 consecutive years, including coach for a National Champion.

From 1978 to 1984, Russev turned to girls coaching, and became a girls gymnastics coach, producing the youngest ever elite gymnast Pepa Kazakova at age 11. At age 13, she won the National Cup among other seniors for Bulgaria. From 1984 - 1991, Russev served as the women’s gymnastics head coach of the leading club in the country, in Sofia Bulgaria. During this same time, he was also the assistant senior gymnastics coach of the National Women Gymnastics Team in Bulgaria. His career includes 5 World Championships (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 2009) and 2 Olympic Games (1984, 1988). His daughter, internationally-famous Hrabrina Hrabrova, was the European Champion, Fifth Place Team at the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea in 1988. Milena Maurodieva, also trained under Russev, is a two-time Bulgarian Champion, European and World Championship medalist.

In 1991, Russev traveled to the United States to coach the Bulgarian Women Gymnastics National Team at World Gymnastic Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. After the World Championship, Russev left for to Huntington, WV, where he conducted the gymnastics program at the Huntington YMCA from 1991-1993. His daughter, Hrabrina, and wife, Vanya, joined him in 1992. After outgrowing their current facilities, Russev decided to open his own gymnastics gym. With the help of families and friends, he founded Bozhi’s Gym Nest in September 1996, after the summer Olympics in Atlanta that year, where Team USA and the Magnificent 7 won the first Olympic Team Gold for the United States.

For the last 20 years, Russev and his daughter developed numerous State, Regional and National titles with their gymnasts, gained recognition from clinics all over the country and produced the 2009 Vault World Champion for the US. This was the first ever Vault Gold Champion for women in the United States. Russev and his daughter hope to continue coaching, giving expertise and helping to produce more talented gymnasts in the future.



Hrabrina Hrabrova Spencer

Hrabrina was born on April 20th, 1972 to mother Vanya Hrabrova and father Bozhidar Hrabrov Russev in Varna, Bulgaria. She was practically raised in the gymnastics gym as her parents were decorated National Team gymnasts and active patrons in the gymnastics community in Bulgaria. She started pursuing competitive gymnastics at the age of 7 after being invited from her dad to join the team. At the age of 11 Hrabrina followed her family into the capital city of Sofia, where her dad was offered high ranking position as a coach in one of the two largest sports clubs in the country. At the age of 14 Hrabrina earned a spot into the Bulgarian National Senior Team, which was one of the top 5 ranking in the World in the 80’s, and went on to winning many National titles and representing the country Worldwide. Some of her biggest achievements are: Silver Medal on Vault in the 1988 European Championships, and 5th place Team with the Bulgarian Team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. The following year of 1989, she suffered a fracture in both arms which put her out of the Team for the 1989 World Championships and a few months later followed by an Achilles tendon rupture (that after an unsuccessful surgery) put her out of her favorite sport as an active gymnast.

She stayed involved with the sport as a clinician and choreographer with her club and the National Team until 1992 while attending the National Sports Academy.

In the spring of 1992, Hrabrina withdrew from the university and joined her father in the USA where they both developed and expended the gymnastics program in the Huntington YMCA. Later this year they were joined by the rest of the family. After outgrowing the YMCA facility they both decided to open a new gymnastics gym, and with the help of a few families from their competitive team and friends they founded Bozhi,s Gym Nest in September of 1996, right after the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia where the USA team and the magnificent 7 won the fist Olympic Team Gold for United States.

For the last 20 years father and daughter team developed numerous State, Regional and National titles with their gymnasts, gained recognition by giving their expertise as clinicians in state and all over the country, and produced the 2009 Vault World Champion for the US first World Vault gold medal.