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Nicknamed “The Pocket Hercules”, Naim Süleymanoğlu was the first weightlifter to claim gold at three different Olympic Games.

World record breaker

Naim Süleymanoğlu was born to Turkish parents living in Bulgaria. Only 1.47m tall, he quickly attracted attention for his weightlifting ability. Nicknamed “The Pocket Hercules”, he set his first world record aged just 15. He dominated the sport for over a decade and by the time he finished his career, he had set an astonishing 46 world records.

Turkish gold

Bulgaria boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games, but a few weeks later Süleymanoğlu lifted 30kg more than the Olympic winner in his weight category. In 1986, Suleymanoglu defected to Turkey, the country of his descent. At the 1988 Seoul Games, he broke the world record in both the snatch and the jerk in the featherweight division, and won the gold medal by 30kg.

Dominant force

Such was Süleymanoğlu’s dominance in his division, he went undefeated for eight-and-a-half years. But at the 1992 European Championships he was beaten by Nikolay Peshalov of Bulgaria. Three months later, at the Barcelona Games, Süleymanoğlu reasserted his dominance and beat his rival by 15kg.

Olympic first

Four years later, Süleymanoğlu broke his own world record to win a closely fought contest. This made him the first weightlifter to claim gold at three different Olympic Games. At the 2000 Sydney Games, he bravely tried to make it four but failed. In 2001, he received the Olympic Order from Juan Antonio Samaranch, then President of the International Olympic Committee.

He passed away on 18 November 2017.



play - Naim Suleymanoglu/054 - 1988_SULEYMANOGLU_Naim_Master_IOC HD_,0200,0400,0600,1200,1800,.mp4.csmil/master.m3u8

Süleymanoğlu breaks the World Record to take gold

Weightlifter Naim Süleymanoğlu made his Olympic debut in Seoul by taking the eyes of the worked. He was quickly nicknamed “The Pocket Hercules” for the combination of his short stature (1.47m or 4ft10in) and incredible display of strength.


Born in Bulgaria to Turkish parents, Süleymanoğlu obtained Turkish citizenship in 1986 and was now representing Turkey in the weightlifting competition at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.


“The Pocket Hercules” lifted 190.0kg in the clean and jerk; and 152.5kg in the snatch, reaching a total of 342.5kg. This result gave him both the Olympic gold medal and new world record, by an impressive 30kg.


Naim Süleymanoğlu would still be back at the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 to win two more Olympic gold medals and have his final Summer Games at Sydney 2000.

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Atlanta 1996-Weightlifting-Up to 64 kg (Featherweight)-SULEYMANOGLU Naim (TUR) 1st.
play naim wm cio high/suleymanoglu_naim_wm_cio_high_,0200,0400,0600,.mp4.csmil/master.m3u8

The Pocket Hercules - One of the Greatest Weightlifters

Despite being only 1.47m tall, Naim Suleymanoglu nicknamed “the pocket Hercules” proved the world to be one of the greatest weightlifters of all time. In 1996, Naim breaks his own world record to claim the 64kg Olympic title, becoming the first weightlifter to win gold at three different Olympics. Weightlifting 64Kg Men's Final - Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics - Naim Suleymanoglu (TUR), Valerios Leonidis (GRE), Xiao Jiangang (CHN)


  • Games
  • G 335.0
    59 - 64kg (featherweight) men
  • G 320.0
    56 - 60kg (featherweight) men
  • G 342.5
    56 - 60kg (featherweight) men

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