Naim Suleymanoglu, the Turkish weightlifter who won three Olympic Gold Medals and was known as “Pocket Hercules,” died Saturday. He was 50.
Suleymanoglu was considered one of the sport’s greatest athletes and earned his nickname for his strength and diminutive size. He died at an Istanbul hospital where he was receiving treatment for cirrhosis of the liver. He had been in intensive care since Sept. 28 and received a liver transplant in October, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.
The 4-foot-10 weightlifter won three straight Olympic gold medals for Turkey between 1988 and 1996. The Bulgarian-born Suleymanoglu could lift three times his weight.
He came out of retirement to try for a fourth gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but missed all three of his lifts.