November 19th, 2017

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Naim Suleymanoglu (1967-2017)


3-time Olympic champion and 7-time world champion Naim Süleymanoğlu has died at the age of 50 at the Ataşehir Memorial Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey.

Due to liver failure caused by cirrhosis, Naim Süleymanoğlu had a liver transplant surgery on October 5, 2017. He remained in the hospital following  following a brain hemorrhage and underwent further surgery on Nov. 11.

Naim Süleymanoğlu was a true legend and, by many accounts, the best Olympic weightlifter ever to step on the competition platform. He was the first weightlifter in the history to win 3 Summer Olympics. He won gold medals in 1988, 1992 and 1996.

The media nicknamed him the “Pocket Hercules” for his short stature. Standing 4 feet 10 inches tall and with a bodyweight of 135 pounds, the Naim was able to lift three times his weight.

Naim Süleymanoğlu was born as Naim Shalamanov in 1967 in an ethnic Turkish family in Bulgaria, and defected to Turkey while training in Australia in 1986 ..

From a very early age, Naim showed that he was a very promising athlete.

At 15, he set his first world record. At 16, he became a vice champion of the world.

At 17, he was considered a true candidate to win the Olympics Gold. However, due to the boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, he didn’t compete in the Olympics but won the Friendship Cup for the weightllifting teams that didn’t go to Los Angeles.

Later on, Naim Süleymanoğlu won gold medals in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta.

On behalf of weightlifting community and the Lift Up project, we would like to extend our condolences to Naim Süleymanoğlu’s family and friends.

It’s a big loss for all.

RIP, legendary Naim.

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In Memory of the Legend: World Record in Snatch by Naim (1986)


November 9, 1986 – 19-year old featherweight Naum Shalamanov of Bulgaria snatches a 145.5 kg world record at the 1986 World Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In a few years, young world record breaker will become known as Naim Suleymanoglu or “Pocket Hercules”, the first Olympic weightlifter to win gold medals at three Summer Olympics.

RIP, Naim Suleymanoglu (1967-2017).


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In Memory of the Legend: 188kg World Record in Clean-and-Jerk (1986)


November 9, 1986 – 19-year old Naim Suleymanoglu competes for Bulgaria and lifts a 188kg world record in clean-and-jerk at the 1986 World Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The “Pocket Hercules” was a featherweight lifter at the time and lifted a weight three time heavier than his bodyweight.

There were only 5 more other athletes in the history of Olympic weightlifting that were able to lift 3x bodyweight.

Needless to say, Naim Sulemanolglu did it on several occasions and the world record on our “History in Color” cover photo wasn’t the first time for him.

3x Bodyweight Lifts by Naim Suleymanoglu

In the bantamweight (56KG)

  • 1984 Vitoria, Australia – 168

  • 1984 Varna, Bulgaria – 170 and 170.5

  • 1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslavia – 172.5 and 173

In the featherweight (60KG)

  • 1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslavia – 185.5

  • 1985 Monte Carlo, Monaco – 186

  • 1986 Karl-Marx-Stadt, East Germany – 187.5

  • 1986 Sofia, Bulgaria – 188

  • 1988 Seoul, South Korea – 188.5 and 190

RIP, Naim Suleymanoglu (1967-2017).

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Athletes and Coaches: Taranenko and Logvinovich


April 1984 – Soviet heavyweight Leonid Taranenko of Urozhay (Harvest), Minsk, and his coach Ivan Logvinovich are having a tough one-on-one session during the 1984 USSR Championship that was held in their hometown Minsk, Belarus.

The athlete-and-coach duo of Taranenko and Logvinovich was the one of the textbook style. They were together during the ups and downs of Taranenko’s career on the Olympic weightlifting.

They shared the gloomy days of injuries and mistakes and the glory days of winning the Olympics, World and European championships, USSR Cups and national championships and setting 19 world records by Leonid Taranenko.