World's strongest boy dubbed 'Little Hercules' is unrecognisable 17 years on

HE was a child bodybuilder once dubbed ‘Little Hercules’ but Richard Sandrak is now unrecognisable as an adult.

When he was eight years old, Richard’s incredible physique, complete with eight-pack abdomen and squeezed into a tiny frame captured the world’s attention.

Richard is now 29 and working as a Hollywood stuntman, regularly getting set on fire and falling 50ft to the ground as part of his job.

Despite his childhood obsession, he said in an interview with Inside Edition: “No, I don't lift weights. If anything it just got boring.”

He added that now “I set myself on fire.”

“I’m very proud of my past. It’s not something I don’t want people to know, it’s just that I’m not going to be stuck living in it,” he said.

When he was growing up he was able to bench-press three times his own body weight.

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He also used his incredible flexibility to master of karate and bend his body into unfeasibly contorted positions.

At one point he was reported to have one per cent body fat, which is potentially fatally low.

But Richard’s story has a dark side stemming from being his relationship with his dad Pavel.

Pavel – a martial arts wold champion from Ukraine – was in charge of his fitness regime.

Richard began on light exercises but soon he began intensive training with his dad that included 600 press-ups and sit ups a day, as well as 300 squats.

He reportedly trained six or seven hours a day and it was revealed he did not attend school but was instead home schooled.

His parents took him to celebrity fitness trainer and promoter Frank Giardina and his wife, Sherry, a former Ms. Fitness America, hoping to launch a career for their son.


When Giardina met Richard, he said was shocked by the boy's physique.

“At first I thought, ‘Is this a midget? Or is this some kind of a trick photography’," he said.

Richard was unveiled at a bodybuilding competition as ‘Little Hercules’ and became an instant celebrity, appearing on TV and in magazines.

He endorsed a line of supplements and became the main attraction at bodybuilding events. 

His fame resulted in him being the subject of a documentary entitled 'The World's Strongest Boy' in 2004.

Richard was pulling in thousands of dollars a month but he later confessed to having an isolated childhood in which he was controlled by his abusive father, ABC reports.

When he was 11 Pavel was sent to prison for domestic abuse against Richard’s mum.

At that point he cut all ties with his dad and stopped bodybuilding.

Richard is now six feet tall and though he doesn’t have his former physique still exercises regularly.

He has also revealed that his dream job is a “quantum scientist” or “maybe specifically maybe even an engineer for NASA”.

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