He stood just 1.5 m tall but he could lift many times his own weight. They called him the 'Pocket Hercules'.
Born Naim Suleimanov in Bulgaria in 1967, he belonged to the ethnic Turkish minority which was ruthlessly repressed by the Bulgarian government. In 1986, while participating in the World Weightlifting Championships in Melbourne, Australia, Naim defected to Turkey. His dramatic life story inspired 3 million Bulgarian Turks to emigrate to Turkey.
Naim began weightlifting at age 10. At 16, he became the youngest weightlifter to set a new world record and only the second man to lift three times his body weight. This last feat was just before the 1984 Olympics which was boycotted by Bulgaria. He participated in the 60-kg class at Seoul. He set world records in the snatch and the clean-and-jerk for a total of a staggering 342.5 kg! It was Turkey's first gold in weightlifting. At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Naim struck gold again.
But it was at the Atlanta Olympics, competing in the 64-kg class, that Naim, now 29 years old, achieved the seemingly impossible. In the snatch, he lifted 147.5 kilos. In the clean-and-jerk, he lifted a record 187.5 kg, again almost three times his own weight! The total weight of 335 kg won him an unprecedented third gold medal in the Olympics.