ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s official news agency says Naim Suleymanoglu, the Turkish weightlifter who was known as “Pocket Hercules” and who won three Olympic gold medals, has died. 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 Saturday at an Istanbul hospital where he was receiving treatment for cirrhosis of the liver, according to Anadolu news agency. He had been in intensive care since Sept. 28 and received a liver transplant.
The weightlifter, who was 1.47 meters or 4-foot-10 tall, won three straight Olympic gold medals for Turkey between 1988 and 1996. Bulgarian-born Suleymanoglu could lift three times his weight.
He captivated the hearts of Turks since winning his first gold at Seoul, South Korea, in 1988, and was regarded as a national hero in his adopted country.
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The Associated Press