Nickname: “Pocket Hercules”
Born in Bulgaria to Turkish parents, the 4-foot, 10-inch Süleymanoğlu defected to Turkey in 1986. He competed as a Turk in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics — winning weightlifting gold as a featherweight in all three Olympiads. Of all the nicknames of all the Olympic athletes in all the world, Pocket Hercules is, simply, the best. Like its owner, it’s compact, powerful and memorable; like all great nicknames, it carries within it the seeds of a welcome, pomposity-pricking humor; and with its immediately recognizable reference to an Hellenic hero (even if Grecian, rather than Turkish) the name anchors Süleymanoğlu on the shores of his true homeland, beside the blue Aegean.
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