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Who is Naim Suleymanoglu – Pocket Hercules?

World-renowned athlete Naim Suleymanoglu, who is considered the best weightlifter of all time, is called Pocket Hercules because of his small size but very strong structure. Who is Naim Suleymanoglu? Naim Suleymanoglu biography…


Naim Suleymanoglu was born on January 23, 1967 in Kircaali. He passed away on 18 November 2017 in Istanbul. He is considered by many authorities to be the greatest weightlifter of all time.

He started weightlifting in 1977, when he was nine years old. At the age of fifteen, he became the champion by winning two gold medals at the World Junior Weightlifting Championships held in Brazil.

At the age of sixteen, he broke the record and became the champion again. Thus, he became the youngest world record holder in weightlifting history. During his career, he has three Olympic Gold medals, seven World Championships and six European Championships. He broke the world record 46 times. In 1984 (at 16 years old), he made history as the second weightlifter to lift three times his body weight in the clean and jerk category.

Between 1983 and 1986, he broke sixty-three records, 13 for juniors and 50 for seniors, and also won championships in the world and European championships in 52, 56 and 60 kilos in this period. He was named world weightlifter of the year in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He could not participate in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics due to Bulgaria’s participation in the boycott with the Soviets. During this period, his name was changed to Naum Shalamanov due to the Bulgarian Government’s ban on Turkish names as part of the ancestry return operation.

In order to get rid of these pressures in Bulgaria and to participate in the competitions on behalf of Turkey, he took refuge in the Turkish embassy at the World Weightlifting Championship held in Melbourne in 1986 and took refuge in Turkey. Turgut Ozal himself took part in his asylum and bringing him to Turkey.

On November 22, 2019, a movie about the life of Naim Suleymanoglu, nicknamed the national athlete (Pocket Hercules), was shot. The director of Pocket Hercules was Ozer Feyzioglu. The script was written by Baris Pirhasan and the producer was Mustafa Uslu. Pocket Hercules is a Turkish movie in the genre of biography and drama.


Naim Suleymanoglu has been under treatment in a private hospital since 28 September due to liver failure. Suleymanoglu, who underwent a surgical liver transplant on October 6, 2017, was taken to emergency surgery on November 11, 2017 due to bleeding and edema in the brain. Olympic and world champion national weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu died at the age of 50 on 18 November 2017 in the hospital where he was treated.

Ece Nagihan

Hi, I'm Ece. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

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