Naim Suleymanoglu
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Who Is Naim Suleymanoglu?

Turkish weightlifting champion Naim Suleymanoglu also referred to as “The Pocket Hercules,” has set numerous records.

Short Career of Naim Suleymanoglu

Naim Suleymanoglu, who stands 1.47 meters tall, began lifting weights at the age of 10 and has been striving to be the best since. He broke his first World Record when he was 15 years old.

He achieved a stunning 46 world records throughout his illustrious career as an Olympic weightlifter, dominating the sport for more than ten years.

Naim’s path to success, nevertheless, wasn’t always “sugar-coated.” He had a challenging upbringing because his parents had to work all day as tobacco growers to put food on the table while he was growing up in a very underprivileged household.

Body Measurements of Naim Suleymanoglu

Full Name: Naim Suleymanoglu
ALIAS: Pocket Hercules
ERA: 1980, 1990, and 2000
PROFESSION: Olympic weightlifter
WEIGHT: 135 – 145lbs (61.2 – 65.8kg) 
HEIGHT: 4’10” (147cm)

Naim Suleymanoglu



Olympic Games

  • 1988 Seoul -60 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1992 Barcelona -60 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1996 Atlanta -64 kg, Gold Medal

World Championships

  • 1989 Athens -60 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1991 Donaueschingen -60 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1993 Melbourne -64 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1994 Istanbul -64 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1995 Guangzhou -64 kg, Gold Medal

European Championships

  • 1994 Sokolov -64 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1995 Warsaw -64 kg, Gold Medal
  • 2000 Sofia -64 kg, Bronze Medal

Representing  Bulgaria at, World Championships

  • 1985 Södertälje, -60 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1986 Sofia, -60 kg, Gold Medal
  • 1983 Moscow -56 kg, Silver Medal

Friendship Games

  • 1984 Varna -56 kg, Gold Medal

Personal Records

  • Snatch: 152.5 kg, at 60 kg body weight
  • Clean and jerk: 170.5 kg, at 54 kg body weight
  • Clean and jerk: 190.0 kg, at 60 kg
  • Total: 342.5 kg (152.5 + 190.0) 1988 Summer Olympics, at 60 kg
  • Sinclair Points: 504 – in theory, the best lifter for size ever


Adolescent Record-Breaker

Naim Suleymanoglu, a Bulgarian-born Turkish man, began competing in weightlifting when he was a youngster. He competed in his first significant competition at the World Junior Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when he was 14 years old.

Naim broke his first world record at the age of 15 just one year later. He immediately became well-known for his achievements at a young age, receiving the moniker “The Pocket Hercules” despite only standing 1.47m tall.

Naim competed in weightlifting at the European Championships in 1984. He succeeded in lifting three times his body weight in the overhead press, making him the second man after the Bulgarian Stefan Topurov to ever accomplish such a feat.

Naim had only recently begun his professional career, yet he was already regarded as one of the top weightlifters “out there”. His finest was yet to come, though.

32 World Records

Naim made history by being the first man to snatch more than twice his body weight four years after his astounding performance at the 1984 European Championships. At this moment, he was 22 years old and had already broken 32 world records.

Naim once again demonstrated his domination in the sport during the Seoul Olympics in 1988 by lifting a weight that was sufficient to win the weight class above his own.

Arguments Against Representing Turkey and Bulgaria

Naim represented his native Bulgaria up until 1986. But in 1986, he switched to Turkey and played for them in the World Cup finals. Bulgarians weren’t happy with this choice; they demanded $1 million if he was to represent Turkey in international competition.

Eventually, the needed sum was given to the Bulgarian government, and Naim started to contend with Turkey in 1986.

Return in 1992

Naim Suleymanoglu “knew no defeat” for the next few years, winning every competition he entered, including the 1986 and 1989 World Championships and the 1986 and 1988 European Championships.

He briefly retired in 1990 before making a triumphant comeback at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. At the Atlanta Games four years later, he captured his third straight Olympic gold medal.

The competition in Atlanta is known for the rivalry between Valerios Leonidis, a competitor from Greece, and Naim. Greek and Turkish fans divided the audience, each supporting their delegate in hopes that they would take home the gold.

Leonidis attempted to lift 190 kg after Naim had lifted 187.5 kg, but he failed and sobbed after winning the silver. You just saw the greatest weightlifting competition in history, one of the broadcasters declared following the contest.

Politics and Old Age

Naim attempted a second comeback in 2000 at the Sydney Olympic Games to win his fourth straight gold medal. But because he didn’t finish, he was disqualified from the competition.

After the competition, Naim Suleymanoglu declared his formal retirement from weightlifting competitions. Since then, he has become active in Turkish politics.


Beginning Slowly

Naim utilized weights that were about 80% of his body weight when he initially began working out. To assist him with his form, he also used a unique light bar.

He gradually ramped up the difficulty of his workouts over time, adding more challenging exercises like deadlifts, snatches, and squats.

Olympic Lifts

These are some of the compound exercises Naim regularly performed as a teenager;

Snatch Movements

  • Snatch from the blocks
  • Jerk from the rack behind the neck with a snatch grip
  • Snatch squat
  • Snatch

Clean and Jerk Movements

  • Power jerk from the rack, first jerk behind the neck, others from shoulders
  • Jerk from rack, first rep from shoulders, and the other reps behind the neck
  • Clean and jerk
  • Front squat
  • Clean from the blocks
  • Clean

Why should we pay attention to Naim Suleymanoglu?

We can see from Naim’s example that challenging experiences can occasionally result in the development of character. He had a difficult upbringing because his parents were unemployed and had to labor nonstop to make ends meet.

However, the difficult times he encountered early in life turned out to be a “gift in disguise,” enabling him to conquer challenges with much greater ease later in life.

One lesson we can take away from Naim is to never view difficult times as anything negative since they could open the door to a better and more satisfying existence, as they did for Naim Suleymanoglu.