Imre Földi, seen here on his way to a silver medal at Mexico City 1968, has died ©Getty Images

Tributes have been paid to former Olympic weightlifting champion Imre Földi after the Hungarian died.

The 78-year-old won gold in the under-56 kilogram weight division at the Munich 1972 Games, setting a world record in the process, lifting a combined weight of 377.5kg.

His triumph marked the overcoming of a hurdle which saw Földi win silvers in the same competition at the Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968 Olympics.

“With Földi’s death, the weightlifting world lost one of its all-time greatest champions and Hungary its most successful weightlifter ever,” a statement from the International Weightlifting Federation said.

“Our sympathy goes to the family and the Hungarian Weightlifting Federation.”

Imre Földi celebrating his 75th birthday in 2013 ©IWF
Imre Földi celebrating his 75th birthday in 2013 ©IWF

On top of his gold, Földi set 20 world records during his career and was also a six-time world champion in the sport.

He also picked up 10 European titles and became the first weightlifter to appear in five Olympics, having also competed at the Rome 1960 and Montreal 1976 editions.

After retiring from the sport, Földi coached his daughter Csilla to 16 European Championship golds.

In 2002, he was awarded the Olympic Order and three years later, was elected by the IWF as one of the lifters of the century.