Former Turkish/Bulgarian weightlifter Naim Süleymanoğlu has been hospitalized with liver failure and is in need of a liver transplant, according to numerous Turkish and Bulgarian news outlets.
At the time of writing we were unable to find any articles on this story in English, so please note that all of this information has been gleaned from articles run through Google Translate.
Early reports described the athlete as comatose and “dying of liver failure.” More recently his physician, Dr. Mehmet Emin Gunes, told CNN Turkey that his condition has somewhat stabilized and that he briefly came out of his coma and was able to answer questions, though he appears to have now lost consciousness again.
Several outlets have reported that Süleymanoğlu has been diagnosed with liver failure and while his kidneys and heart continue to function, he needs a liver transplant as soon as possible.
[Suleymanoglu’s weightlifting battle at the Atlanta Olympics has been called the greatest of all time. Relive it here.]
Fellow Turkish weightlifter (and member of the triple bodyweight clean & jerk club) Halil Mutlu came out in support of Süleymanoğlu, saying that his only hope is for Naim to receive a transplant and recover, while emphasizing that there is a “big deficiency in organ donation in Turkey.”
Süleymanoğlu, aged 50, is one of the greatest weightlifters of all time. Nicknamed “Pocket Hercules” for his short stature (he’s 4’10”) and immense strength, he’s one of just six athletes to officially clean and jerk triple bodyweight in competition.
His performance at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where he totaled 342.5 kilograms (755 pounds) at a little under 60kg bodyweight, earned him a Sinclair coefficient of 500.7. This is the highest Sinclair of all time, which — if you put a lot of stock in Sinclair scores — makes him pound-for-pound the strongest weightlifter to ever live.
All of us at BarBend wish Süleymanoğlu the best and we hope that he is able to receive a transplant as soon as possible.
Featured image via Samet Yılmaz on YouTube.