Naim Süleymanoğlu: Early Life, Death & Net Worth

Naim Süleymanoğlu was a well-recognized Turkish Olympic weightlifter.

Similarly, he had set around 46 world records, including seven-time World Weightlifting Champion and a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

Likewise, Naim Süleymanoğlu is also regarded as the national hero of Turkey as well.

Furthermore, he was regarded as one of the greatest Olympic weightlifters and the best pound-for-pound weightlifter in the history of the Olympics.

Similarly, he was the first and only weightlifter to have snatched 2.5 times of his body weight.

Naim Süleymanoğlu during an event.
Naim Süleymanoğlu during an event.

In addition, he is the second of only seven lifters to date to clean & jerk three times his body.

Likewise, he is the only weightlifter to date to clean & start 10 kilos, more than triple his body weight.

Moreover, he had set multiple world records in the featherweight division in the snatch, clean & jerk, and total in the 1988 Summer Olympics. In addition to this, he was also covered in the Times Magazine in the same year.

Interestingly, he was awarded the Olympic Order in 2001. Furthermore, he was also elected as a member of the International weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame in 2000 and 2004.

In the article, you will find detailed information about Naim Süleymanoğlu regarding his early life, career, and many more.

Quick Facts

Here are some astonishing quick facts about Naim Süleymanoğlu:

Full Name Naim Süleymanoğlu
Nick/Celebrated name The Pocket Hercules
Date of birth January 23, 1967
Birthplace Ptichar, Kardzhali Province, Bulgaria
Death year November 18, 2017 (aged 50)
Death place Istanbul, Turkey
Parents Father’s name- Not available
Mother’s nameNot available
Siblings Not available
Nationality Turkish
Citizenship Turkey & Bulgaria
Ethnicity Not available
Zodiac Sign  Aquarius
Height 1.47 m (4 feet 10 inches) (2000)
Weight 62 kg (137 lbs) (2000)
Body Type Athletic
Eye Color Brown
Hair Color Light Brown
Sexual Orientation Straight
High School Not available
University Not available
Wife Not available
Children Esin Süleymanoğlu
Sezin Süleymanoğlu
Sekai Mori
Profession Athletic
Sport Olympic weightlifting
Events 56 kg (1983), 60 kg (1985-1992), 64 kg (1993-1996), 62 kg (2000)
Achievements and Titles Snatch 152.5 kg (1988, WR)
Clean & Jerk 190.0 kg (1988, WR)
Total 342.5 (1988, WR)
Represented Country  Bulgaria (1977-1986)
Turkey (1986-2000)
Turned Pro 1983
Retired 2000
Sponsors Not available
Salary Not available
Net worth $100k – $1 million
Year active 1982-2000
Merch Naim Süleymanoglu: Özgürlüge Uçan Dev Paperback, Naim Süleymanoglu-Calismanin Önemi
Social Media Not available
Last update May, 2024

Naim Süleymanoğlu: Early Life and Parents

Naim Süleymanoğlu was born in a Turkish family on January 23, 1967, in Ptichar, Kardzhali Province, Bulgaria. 

However, his father worked in a mine. Similarly, his father stood only five feet tall, while his mother was around four feet seven inches.

Furthermore, sadly, there is no information regarding his parent’s names.

Naim Süleymanoğlu: Body Measurements

Surprisingly, Naim Süleymanoğlu stood 1.47 m (4 ft 10 in) tall and weighed around 62 kg (137lbs).

Regarding his body type, he had an athletic body. Similarly, he had light brown hair, and his eyes color was brown as well.

In addition, the January-born athlete zodiac sign was Aquarius.

Naim Süleymanoğlu: Marital Status and Children

Sadly, there is no information on his marital status. However, it is believed that he never got married. 

Despite all of these facts, Naim Süleymanoğlu is blessed with three children.

Naim Süleymanoğlu's daughter Esin and Sezin Süleymanoğlu.
Naim Süleymanoğlu’s daughter Esin and Sezin Süleymanoğlu.

Similarly, his children with a Turkish woman are two daughters, named Esin and Sezin Süleymanoğlu.

In addition, his other daughter is with Kyoko Mori, a Japanese journalist. Moreover, his Japanese daughter’s name is Sekai Mori.

Naim Süleymanoğlu: Defection to Turkey

Interestingly, Naim Süleymanoğlu managed to set the world record during his teenage.

Sadly, if Bulgaria had not joined in a boycott by the Eastern Bloc, it would have been an overwhelming favorite to win the gold medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics for the country.

Naim Süleymanoğlu had to change his name to Naum Shalamanov in 1985 due to Bulgaria’s government implementation of the Revival Process program.

Similarly, this forced the minor ethnic people to adopt Slavic names and even barrier their language.

After that event, he decided to conduct encrypted correspondence with the Turkish Squad to leave his birthplace, Bulgaria.

Likewise, after hiding several days while on a trip to the World Cup Final in Melbourne in 1986, he escaped his handlers and defected in the Turkish Embassy in Australia, Canberra.

Similarly, the Prime Minister of Turkey ordered them to get him to Turkey right after Embassy officials reported the situation. 

Furthermore, he was flown to London at first, then transferred to a private jet to fly him to Turkey. Moreover, after getting to Turkey, he changed his name back to Süleymanoğlu.

Naim Süleymanoğlu: Professional career

Olympic career

Sadly, Naim Süleymanoğlu had to go through different circumstances to compete in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The Turkish government has to pay around $1.25 million for his eligibility to Bulgaria. 

Likewise, he competed in either division. But, interestingly, his primary competition was with his old teammate Stefan Topurov from the Bulgarian team.

Furthermore, this was the year he made three consecutive lifts managing to set the world record in two attempts.

Due to his Sinclair coefficient during this 1988 event, his performance is regarded as the most dominating weightlifting performance of all time.

Similarly, he was just 22 when he retired from weightlifting after winning the world championship in 1989.

However, he returned to sports in 1991. Surprisingly, he managed to win his second Olympic gold medal in Barcelona in 1992. 

Likewise, he retired again after winning a tired Olympic gold medal in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta.

Similarly, the competition between Naim Süleymanoğlu and Greece’s Valerios Leonidis was divided into partisan Turkish and Greek crowds. 

Furthermore, according to Ken Jones of The Independent, announcer Lynn Jones proclaimed that this was one of the most incredible weightlifting competitions the history.

Moreover, for his fourth Olympic gold medal, he made his comeback in a let attempt in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

However, sadly, he failed three shots and was eliminated from the competition.

Political Career

Apart from his weightlifting career, he was also involved in politics as well.

Similarly, he stood as an independent candidate in the 1999 general elections to represent Bursa at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. 

Furthermore, he also stood for the candidacy of the Nationalist Movement Party for the mayor of Kiraç municipality in Büyükçekmece district of Istanbul district.

Moreover, he represented the same party in the general elections in 2006. However, sadly, he was unsuccessful.

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Naim Süleymanoğlu: Achievements and Titles

Representing Bulgaria

Before he moved into Turkey, Süleymanoğlu had represented Bulgaria in a different event and managed to win various titles and the gold medal for the country.

World Championships

In the 56 kg event held in Moscow in 1983, he managed to win the silver medal. 

Furthermore, he managed to grab two more gold medals in the World Championships in 1985 and 1986 held in Södertälje and Sofia.

European Championships

Sadly, Süleymanoğlu managed to win the silver medal in the 1983 Moscow’s 56 kg event.

However, he won the gold medal for three consecutive years from 1984 to 1986 in the European Championships in the different events held in Vitoria, Katowice, and Karl-Marx-Stadt.

World Junior Championships

Interestingly, Süleymanoğlu’s won the gold medal, his first medal, in 1982 Sao Paulo’s 52 kg event.

World Cup Winner 

Naim Süleymanoğlu won his second consecutive gold medal in the same year in 1984.

Furthermore, he managed to win a gold medal in the 1985 Monte Cario’s 60 kg event.

Likewise, he also won the gold medal in the 1986 Melbourne’s 60 kg event.

World Cup Final

Interestingly, this was the third consecutive gold medal for Süleymanoğlu in the same year in 1984 by winning in 56 kg event held in Sarajevo.

Moreover, he also managed to win the gold medal in the 60 kg event held in Monte Cario.

Friendship Games

Surprisingly, Naim Süleymanoğlu won the first gold medal in the event held in 1984 in Varna.

Representing Turkey

Interestingly, Süleymanoğlu managed to win the different titles for Turkey as well.

Olympic Games

Süleymanoğlu won a total of three gold medals in the Olympics games in different events. It was 1988 when he won the first gold medal in the 60 kg event.

Similarly, he won the gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona’s 60 kg event. Furthermore, he won his third gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta’s 64 g event.

World Championships

Süleymanoğlu mostly participated in the 60 kg and 64 kg events in the World championships.

His first gold medal for Turkey in this championship was in 1989, held in Athens. Likewise, his second medal was in the 1991 Donaueschingen. 

Furthermore, his third gold medal was in the 1993 Melbourne. Similarly, his fourth gold medal was in the championships held in Turkey in 1994.

In addition to this, his fifth gold medal was in Guangzhou in 1995.

European championships

Overall, Süleymanoğlu has won four gold medals in the European Championships.

Similarly, his first gold medal was in Cardiff in 1988, and his successive medal was in 1989 in Athens.

However, sadly, he only won the silver medal in the 1992 Szekszárd.

Likewise, after a year of gap in these championships, he participated in 1994 and 1995, grabbing the gold medal held in Sokolov and Warsaw.

Furthermore, before he retired from weightlifting, he competed in the 2000 Sofia but could not grab the title he deserved. However, he won the bronze medal.

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Naim Süleymanoğlu: Death

Sadly, in 2009, he was first hospitalized for nearly three months due to liver cirrhosis.

Furthermore, Naim Süleymanoğlu was again hospitalized on September 25, 2017, due to liver failure.

Similarly, when the liver donor was found, the liver transplantation was done on October 6.

Naim Süleymanoğlu during his treatment in the hospital.
Naim Süleymanoğlu during his treatment in the hospital.

However, he had to go through surgery due to brain hemorrhage and subsequent edema on November 11.

Sadly, the champion passed away on November 18, 2017. Afterward, he was interred in the Edirnekapi Martyr’s Cemetery in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Naim Süleymanoğlu: Controvesry

Sadly, even after Naim Süleymanoğlu’s death, he had to go through the controversy that shook everyone, primarily his family members.

Moreover, a Japanese woman claimed that he had fathered her daughter so, she filed a paternity case at a Turkish court.

Furthermore, his body was extracted from the grave for a DNA sample.

In addition, a DNA test confirmed that the Japanese citizen Sekai Mori is the daughter of the iconic champion. 

Similarly, this made Sekai Mori an eligible inheritor of the late champion Naim Süleymanoğlu’s property.

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Naim Süleymanoğlu: Net Worth

 The seven-time World Weightlifting Champion had an estimated net worth of $100k – $1 million.

In addition, he earned from the championship wins and many endorsement deals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is Naim Süleymanoğlu nicknamed as The Pocket Hercules?

Naim Süleymanoğlu is nicknamed The Pocket Hercules because of his 4 feet 10 inches height yet his great strength during the event. 

How old was Naim Süleymanoğlu when he won the first gold medal?

Surprisingly, Naim Süleymanoğlu was just fifteen years old when he won the gold medal in the World Junior Championships Games in the 52 kg event held in Sao Paulo.

How many gold medals has Naim Süleymanoğlu won in total?

Naim Süleymanoğlu has won around twenty-four gold medals in different championships in different events.

What is the name of the movie based on Naim Süleymanoğlu’s life and career?

Cep Herkülü: Naim Süleymanoğlu is the name of the movie based on Naim Suletmanoglu’s life and career.

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