Naim Süleymanoğlu born 23 January 1967 – 18 November 2017) was a Turkish world and Olympic Champion in weightlifting, who was nicknamed “The Pocket Hercules” because of his small stature of 1.47 m (4 ft 10 in). In the 1988 Summer Olympics, he set a record by lifting 190 kg in the clean and jerk. He was awarded the Olympic Order in 2001. In 2000 and 2004, he was elected a member of the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.
Naim Süleymanoğlu on a Paraguayan stamp
|Nickname(s)||The Pocket Hercules|
|Born||23 January 1967|
Ptichar, Momchilgrad municipality, Kardzhali Province, Bulgaria
|Died||18 November 2017 (aged 50)|
|Height||1.47 m (4 ft 10 in) (2000)|
|Weight||62 kg (137 lb) (2000)|
|Event(s)||56 kg (1983), 60 kg (1985–1992), 64 kg (1993–1996), 62 kg (2000)|
|Achievements and titles|
|Updated on 28 October 2014.|
Süleymanoğlu is the first and only weightlifter to have snatched 2.5 times his body weight and also is the second of only seven lifters to date to clean and jerk three times his body weight. He is the only weightlifter to date to clean and jerk 10 kilos more than triple his bodyweight.
Süleymanoğlu was born as Naim Suleymanov but in 1986 the Bulgarian government changed it to Naum Shalamanov . As Naim protested against his name change the government agreed on changing his name back to Naim Suleimanov but as a protest against name changing of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, Naim defected to Turkey .Ptichar, Kardzhali Province, Bulgaria to an ethnic Turkish family. His father was a miner who stood only five feet tall, while his mother was four-foot-seven. He won championships in his teens and may have competed at the 1984 Summer Olympics had Bulgaria not joined in a boycott by the Eastern Bloc.
In the 1980s, Bulgaria’s government implemented a program called the Revival Process which required ethnic minorities to adopt Slavic names and barred their languages. As a result, Süleymanoğlu changed his name to Naum Shalamanov (Bulgarian: Наум Шаламанов) in 1985.
While on a trip to the World Cup Final in Melbourne in 1986, Suleimanov escaped his handlers, and after several days in hiding, he defected at the Turkish Embassy in Canberra. After making his way to Istanbul, he changed his name back to Süleymanoğlu.
In order for him to compete at the 1988 Seoul Olympics the Bulgarian government had to agree to release his eligibility to Turkey. The Turks paid Bulgaria $1.25 million for his release. At the Olympics, his main competition was his old teammate from the Bulgarian team, Stefan Topurov. He came out for the snatch portion of the competition after all other athletes had finished and made three consecutive lifts, setting world records in his last two attempts. In the clean and jerk portion, Topurov completed a 175.0 kg clean and jerk after Süleymanoğlu, with his next two lifts Süleymanoğlu set two more world records and won his first Olympic gold. His last lift was a 190.0 kg clean and jerk was 3.15 times his bodyweight, which is the highest ratio clean and jerk to bodyweight of all time. Using the Sinclair Coefficient his performance at the 1988 Seoul Olympics was the most dominating weightlifting performance of all time. His total was high enough to win the weight class above his. He retired at the age of 22, after winning the world championship in 1989. However, he returned in 1991 before winning a second Olympic gold medal at Barcelona in 1992.
The 1996 Olympic Games were to be his swan song and he retired after winning a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympic Games. That competition was noted for the rivalry between him and Greece's Valerios Leonidis, with the arena divided into partisan Turkish and Greek crowds. At the end of the competition they were the very last competitors remaining as they traded three straight world-record lifts; Süleymanoğlu managed to raise 187.5 kg and then Leonidis failed in his attempt to lift 190 kg, which guaranteed him the silver medal. Announcer Lynn Jones proclaimed "You have just witnessed the greatest weightlifting competition in history," according to Ken Jones in the London Independent.
Süleymanoğlu made another comeback in a late attempt to earn a fourth gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, which would have been an Olympic record, but failed three attempts at 145 kg and was eliminated from the competition. He was awarded the Olympic Order in 2001. In 2000 and 2004, he was elected member of the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.
At the 1999 general elections, he stood as an independent candidate to represent Bursa at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. In 2002, he was the candidate of the Nationalist Movement Party for the mayor of Kıraç municipality in Büyükçekmece district of Istanbul Province and represented the same party in general elections in 2006. He was unsuccessful in all these attempts.
Death and aftermathEdit
On 25 September 2017, he was admitted to a hospital due to liver failure. On 6 October, a liver transplantation was made when a liver donor was found. On 11 November, he had surgery due to a hemorrhage in the brain and a subsequent edema. He died on 18 November 2017. He was interred at the Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery in Istanbul.
A Japanese woman claimed after his death that she had a daughter Sekai Mori by him, and filed a paternity case at a Turkish court. Süleymanoğlu's grave was opened on 4 July 2018 to take DNA sample. A DNA test confirmed her claim.
|Year||Venue||Weight||Snatch (kg)||Clean & Jerk (kg)||Total||Rank|
|1988||Seoul, South Korea||60 kg||145.0||150.5 WR||152.5 WR||1||175.0||188.5 WR||190.0 WR||1||342.5 WR|
|1992||Barcelona, Spain||60 kg||142.5||1||170||177.5||—||1||320|
|1996||Atlanta, United States||64 kg||145||147.5||1||180||185||187.5||1||335 WR|
|2000||Sydney, Australia||62 kg||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1983||Moscow, Soviet Union||56 kg||130.0 WR||—||—||160.0||—||—||290.0|
|1985||Södertälje, Sweden||60 kg||142.5||—||—||180.0||—||—||322.5|
|1986||Sofia, Bulgaria||60 kg||147.5 WR||—||—||187.5||—||—||335.5 WR|
|1989||Athens, Greece||60 kg||140.0||145.0||—||172.5||317.5|
|1991||Donaueschingen, Germany||60 kg||135.0||137.5||165.0||172.5||310.0|
|1993||Melbourne, Australia||64 kg||140.0||145.0||—||177.5 WR||—||322.5 WR|
|1994||Istanbul, Turkey||64 kg||142.5||145.0||147.5 WR||177.5||181.0||182.5 WR||330.0 WR|
|1995||Guangzhou, China||64 kg||145.0||147.5||180.0||—||327.5|
|1984||Varna, Bulgaria||56 kg||132.5||—||—||1||165.0||—||—||1||297.5|
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