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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What Happens When an Acrobat Takes to Skates

MTRamazanov showing off one of his devices, diesel-powered jumping boots.

If you ever happen to be in a park in Northern Butovo, look out for a man in his fifties speeding past you. That man is probably Ramil Ramazanov, 55, a former circus performer who has gained fame locally for the unusual things on his feet.
Look down at the Heath-Robinson contraption attached to him as he rolls past or, if you’re lucky, as he sails over you in mid-somersault.
“Everybody knows me in the neighborhood and everyone takes an interest in my new devices,” said Ramanazov as two boys walked past looking at his feet.
Ramazanov says that his skates go much quicker than ordinary ones that have not been tinkered with and, due to the shock absorbers on them, are built to go over far bumpier surfaces.
His contraption began when he was given a broken pair of skates. Now the wheels are the only original detail left, the rest made up of bits salvaged from a baby carriage, some skis and an ordinary valenki, a traditional Russian boot.
Russians have a long history of self-made devices invented because of a lack of finances, a lack of materials or simply a desire to invent. The Shchusev Architecture Museum ran an exhibition of such items two years ago, and Ramamzov’s device could easily have fit into the show.
Ramazanov was a circus acrobat until he had to retire with a back injury. He went on to set up one of the first private circuses in Russia.
Vladimir Filonov / MT
Ramazanov sailing through Butovo.
It is not his first dealings with an improved, high-speed variant of a traveling device, he said. He also has diesel-powered jumping boots, which use part of a roller skate body, metal tubes and oddly placed boxes.
“You put the diesel in there,” said Ramanazarov, who bought the idea for the boots from another inventor.
Ramazanov has great plans for the boots, which he says help you jump high and far and do somersaults, although he is not quite clear on the use of the device past simple recreation. He hopes one day to have a ballet with all the dancers wearing the footwear and leaping even higher than normal.
His latest idea is to combine his two loves to create a circus of inventors, in which all the performers would be young inventors from across the former Soviet Union.
At the grand finale, he said, a cannon would shoot people from its mouth, a scene that Ramanzov can already see in his mind.
“A person flies out of a cannon at high speed and for some time hangs over the spectators with enormous wings attached to his spine. It will be amazing,” said Ramazanov, who has the blueprints for the cannon and an agreement with a factory to build the weapon.
“Russians need this kind of circus,” said Alexander, a friend of Ramanazov, who helps him with his ideas.
Ramzanov has yet to raise the money needed for the project.
He also has an idea for a carnival of stuntmen using his boots. “Just imagine streets of people walking in the boots,” he said. “There would also be guns that would shoot soft toys, confetti ... it’s just like a Brazilian carnival.”
Unfortunately, Russians don’t seem to be that interested in the skates or the boots or the carnival yet — so he has written to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ask for help.
“I’ve already written to Schwarzenegger, but he hasn’t answered yet.”