Naim Süleymanoğlu Receives Successful Liver Transplant

One of the greatest weightlifters of all time has successfully received a liver transplant after being hospitalized with liver failure in late September.

Former Turkish/Bulgarian weightlifter Naim Süleymanoğlu, now 50 years old, was rushed to surgery on October 6th after a donor was found. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a personal interest in Süleymanoğlu’s case and asked to be “constantly informed” about his status while he was in hospital. He was visiting the Olympic gold medalist in hospital after the surgery when this photo was taken.

The news about the successful liver transplant could come as a relief to many in the weightlifting community, as fellow Turkish weightlifter Halil Mutlu had told reporters that there was a “big deficiency in organ donation in Turkey.” He added that his “only hope” was for Süleymanoğlu to receive a transplant and recover.

An article from the Turkey Telegraph appears to suggest that the transplant came from a friend of his, but we should note that the article appears to have been translated pretty roughly from Turkish and we can’t be sure of its word-for-word accuracy.

Naim Süleymanoğlu is often called the greatest weightlifter of all time. While titles like that are usually hyperbolic, his performance at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, at which he totaled 342.5kg at 59.7kg bodyweight, resulted in the highest Sinclair ever recorded: 500.7. He is one of just six people to have clean & jerked triple their bodyweight, which he did at least eight times throughout his career.

He was also known for his rivalry with the Greek weightlifter Valerios Leonidis, and their battle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was called “the greatest weightlifting competition in history” by announcer Lyn Jones. In under ten minutes, three world records were broken as they fought for gold. Süleymanoğlu ultimately came out on top with a world record total.

We’re delighted that Süleymanoğlu will live to lift another day.

Featured image via @russia_weightlifting on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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