As children, we dream of becoming many things. Some want to be a pilot, others sports stars, others still actors or singers or entertainers.
Richard Sandrak’s boyhood dream was something entirely else. As a young child, the Ukrainian-American wanted to become a bodybuilder, and soon became known as “The World’s Strongest Boy”, or “Little Hercules.”
Sandrak was dedicated to his goal and trained five times a week, 90 minutes per session, during his early teenage years. He also followed a strict diet and had a personal trainer.
So what happened to Little Hercules? And what is the real truth behind the insane gym training supervised by his father? Today, he’s 29 years of age – and this is what he looks like!
The most important thing for any child is for them to be just that, a child. No kid should be forced into doing something they don’t want to; all should have the freedom to be able to follow their passion in life.
Many of us have known parents who tried to live out their dream through their kids, irrespective if that entailed becoming a famous scientist, dancer, hockey player, you name it! Sure, we should always encourage children to follow their dreams, but never to an extent where their childhood is spent in the pursuit of something they might not even have chosen themselves.
Richard Sandrak knows a thing or two about straddling that particular border. As a very young child, he worked out at the gym under the supervision of his father, Pavel. He would become known around the world as “The World’s Strongest Boy”. Some even called him “Little Hercules.”
Many were under the impression that Richard was forced into working out, that wasn’t the case, according to Little Hercules himself. He’s now 29 years of age, and, though yet to turn 30, he’s lived an extraordinary life.
So what happened to Little Hercules? Well, here’s the incredible story of his life to date!
Richard Sandrak was born on April 15, 1992, in Ukraine. As a very young boy, physical fitness was incorporated into his lifestyle. His mother, Lena, was an aerobics competitor, his father, Pavel, a former world champion in martial arts.
Since his father was a martial arts specialist, Richard started working out far earlier than most others. His parents drilled him in flexibility and strength when he turned two years of age, around the same time that the family moved to Pennsylvania.
There, his parents formed a dream for their son. According to a 2007 piece by The Guardian, they harbored hopes of moving to California, aiming to get good publicity for their son as he slowly morphed into a young bodybuilder.
Richard’s father, Pavel, was heavily criticized at the time and accused of drilling his son too hard. He had enormous muscles for such a young boy, and some even speculated that he had taken steroids to become that ripped. His parents, however, vehemently denied this.
In a 2009 BBC interview, Little Hercules himself set the record straight on the idea that he was forced into working out as much as he did.
“I’ve never been forced to train or do anything against my will,” he said. “My parents used to train all the time, and I wanted to join in. It was mostly my choice. It’s just what I grew up doing. I was never forced. It was never an issue.”
Though Richard claims he wasn’t forced to work out, his father’s routine was what some would call extreme.
According to The Guardian, he underwent “six or seven hour training regimes” consisting of thousands of press-ups. The young boy didn’t attend school, but was home tutored instead – his father oversaw everything.
In 2004, Richard’s parents’ plan looked to be gaining traction. The documentary The World’s Strongest Boy aired, bringing him plenty of attention. Naturally, the reaction wasn’t all positive, with people wondering out loud if his parents had given him steroids or other supplements to enhance his muscle growth.
In the documentary, viewers saw Little Hercules flexing and posing on a Las Vegas stage. He had an eight-pack abdomen at the time, and looked every inch a miniature Arnold Schwarzenegger.