This Is What Child Bodybuilder ‘Little Hercules’ Is Doing Today
The popular strongest boy in the whole wide world, Richard Sandrak was once known as the Little Hercules. He has managed to build his body the way that no other child in the world has managed to, in fact, he has built his body the way that no other adult in the world has managed to! In today’s post, we’re going to take you for a ride through Sandrak’s journey to get a ripped body. This is the boy that was doing 600 sit-ups and push-ups each and every day.
He has even managed to bench-press more than three times his own body weight as a child! Richard grew up knowing only one thing in his life, how to do intense exercise, and going through a strict diet, and that’s how he became one of the, if not the youngest bodybuilders in the whole world. But, once he grew up, he decided to take a whole new direction in his life, and make a complete overhaul of his life. Take a read and find out what happened to the youngest bodybuilder!
How it all Began
Pavel and Lena Sandrak, the father and mother of Richard Sandrak welcomed their kid into this world back in the year of 1992 in a small village in Ukraine. And the fact that both his mother and father were pretty talented and successful people this meant that Richard was pretty much set for success.
Both of Richard’s parents were coming from athletic and pretty competitive backgrounds. His father, Pavel, was a well-known martial arts competitor, he was a world champion in martial arts. And, his mother, Lena, was set for success in the area of competitive aerobics. And, it seemed as though, their kid, Richard would be a pretty successful kid. And although it was expected for him to succeed in life, no one expected it to happen as fast as it actually happened.
Moving Out of Ukraine
Ukraine couldn’t hold these talented people, so in order to get a better life, and to be able to give their kid the future that he needed, the Sandraks decided to move to Pennsylvania. This is when the two-year-old Richard was introduced to the art of weightlifting.
Richard’s father decided to build a home gym where he would be able to work out, and hopefully teach his son a thing or two. Oftentimes, when the parents are working they would let their children do some activities suited for kids, or just give them something they could play with, but Pavel decided that he was not going to be that kind of parent and he came up with an idea that was going to change Richard’s life.
Without any plans or ideas of making his kid the kid that he grew up to be, Pavel kept giving Richard some light weights to hold. Pavel also taught his kid a couple of stretching exercises and martial art techniques that would help him with his self-defense while he was working out, and Richard seemed kind of interested.
He was immediately able to notice the potential that his kid had, but there’s one thing that Pavel didn’t think about. His kid was only a toddler. Pavel was still a proud father hoping that his kid is going to grow up to make his dream a reality. And he thought that he had just the right idea in mind to achieve this.
He Wants to Lift
In an interview, Lena remembers the first time that they noticed the will that Richard had for lifting weights. She spoke how they saw their 3 and a half-year-old – Four-year-old kid lifting a giant barbell. She took the barbell, helped him, and decided to start with something lighter.
So, the first thing that they decided to do for their kid is the small-sized dumbbells that allowed their son to work out. Pavel recalls how they trained Richard’s balance, at one point he would make him stand on a basketball with one leg up. It was clear that their kid was slowly but surely becoming a wonder kid.
Moving for the Second Time
For the second time in his life, Pavel decided to move with his family. This time the destination that they were moving to was closer than before, but it was still a big step forward. They were going to California. He had a lot of connections there, and he knew that this was the destination to go if he wanted to allow his son his 5 seconds of fame.
And so they did. They took their already ripped son, and Pavel and Lena moved in the Golden State trying to give his son as many possibilities as he could. But, he didn’t even need to pull any connections for his son, once they noticed the small ripped kid a lot of people started asking around, and slowly but surely the kid was growing in popularity.
Determined for Success
Pavel was determined that he was going to prepare his son for the life and career that he planned out for Richard. And after a countless number of hours spent in the gym, Frank Giardina, a fitness trainer has finally noticed what he said looked to him as a miniature version of Arnold Schwarzenegger running around the gym and lifting every possible weight there is in the gym.
Richard, the young bodybuilder, took Giardina’s breath away. What was important for Pave and his son was the fact that Frank and his wife, Sherry Goggin were stars of the famous competition “American Gladiator”. And they both knew how to put stardom and strength together, and use them.
From Zero to Hero
When Richard’s father asked Giardina to train his son, the fitness trainer was more than happy to do it. But during all the time that they trained together what Giardina didn’t realize was the influence that he actually had to mold Richard into the man that he was to become. And because the end goal was for the kid to become a famous bodybuilding star, the couple decided to train him as much as possible while preparing an amazing show with the kid.
Five times a week, 90 minutes per session was the workout routine that Giardina chose for the kid. And by the time that he got to 4 years old Richard was already at the point where he spent most of the time in the gym doing 600 sit-ups and push-ups along with 300 squats each and every day.
A Way of Life
While the kid was out of the gym, Pavel was in charge of Richard’s diet and workout routines. He wasn’t allowed to eat any sweets and he couldn’t eat any junk food. The kid was away from his friends, away from his school and even his toys. Each and every meal was accompanied by a mysterious drink that his father gave Richard to drink three times a day.
Richard and even his mother had no say in the kid’s daily routine. Pavel was determined that he wasn’t going to miss a day without any workout because he wanted to reach his goal as fast as humanly possible. And the father’s goal was to make his kid the best bodybuilder kid in the world!
He was Ripped
Not too long after Richard was able to bench press a lot more than his body weight. Namely, he could bench press 82 kilograms or 180 pounds. By the time that he got to 6 years old the kid increased his body weight by three and he had a ripped body with no more than one percent body fats. By the time he was eight he was bench pressing ninety five kilograms, 210 pounds.
Pavel was already planning to show his mini bodybuilding son to the whole world. And not only that his son was going to get more than the attention that Pavel was hoping for. Everything was going according to Pavel’s plan. The only thing that was in question was how much longer could the kid go on with the constant diets and workout routines.
Taking the Curtains Down
After a couple of years of hard work and training the kid was finally ready to be in front of the world. This is when the young Richard Sandrak was going to get his first nickname, the Little Hercules. Richard started going around the US and his show was a complete sell-out each and every time.
The show was made so that Richard performed some of his best workouts showing his strength and balance including some martial art skills and a couple of backup dancers. He achieved all of this even before he was 10 years old.
Road to Fame
Soon enough, the small Richard Sandrak started getting more and more famous and it didn’t take him too long to prove the “Little Hercules” nickname that he got. After the bodybuilding world attention that he got, the media stepped in and gave him the title “The Strongest Boy in The World”, and those were the words that his father was aiming for.
Richard wasn’t a particularly big bodybuilder, but that was a good thing for him. Because of this, he could contort his body, this enabled him to do the splits easily. He grew stronger and stronger and because of his strength and abilities, his trainer decided to enter him into nationwide events. But, this wasn’t where Richard’s carrier would stop. This was just the beginning of his road to fame.
Becoming a Celebrity
Richard Sandrak was the center of all attention in the bodybuilding world. He was getting invitations for advertisements and modeling photo shoots right left and center. He even got some invitations to be a couple of magazines’ and brands’ ambassador. It didn’t take too long for the conventional media to turn its attention to the boy. And soon enough he was invited to a numerous TV and Radio shows such as The Howard Stern Show.
Richard’s parents, Pavel and Lena, were proud of their boy, and they didn’t try to hide this. Richard couldn’t stop signing contracts after contracts with some of the best bodybuilding nutrition companies. He didn’t stop to travel around the US and win awards after awards for the competitions that he won, and believe me when I tell you, there were a lot of competitions. But despite all this fame, the kid’s life was far from perfect, read on to find out why!
A Lost Childhood?
Being on such a strict routine and lifestyle the kid didn’t feel it, but the public started growing concern for the boy and his overall health. The continued criticizing his parents because they were holding him hostage because of the stardom that he was getting not thinking about the consequences that this might have on his life.
The lifestyle that Richard was living was a pretty unrealistic one, because first of all, it kept him away from having any friends, it kept him away from school, and most important he couldn’t even take some time off to have a piece of pizza with his family, because his dad would take it away from him and offer him a bowl of lettuce instead,
They Didn’t Know
Because of the fact that Frank was his fitness trainer he had to implement some hard and pretty strict workout routines into the kid’s life, but this was far from the fact that he didn’t care about his overall health. In fact, he noticed the father’s personality when he repeatedly made his son do the exercises that he’d fail, and once, he even made him train throughout the whole night
In an interview back in 2003 Giardina said that they never knew that the kid didn’t have any toys. The kid had nothing to play with, he didn’t even have a skateboard nor a bicycle. He wasn’t even allowed to go to the park because of his strict routine.
It was His Choice
Frank was expecting this routine and lifestyle to take a toll on the kid’s life but he didn’t expect that it was going to be that big. The exercises intensified and the routines started getting more and more demanding but Richard never said a word let along complain. In fact, at one point in an interview, the kid even said that nobody forced him to train, hje did it because he wanted to do it and that he never did anything that was against his own will.
After he went on telling about how his parents were training in the gym constantly and he felt like he wanted to join them, and that’s how he started doing it. He said that everything he did was his mostly his choice, that this was what he grew around and he has never seen it as a problem. But, despite the fact that this didn’t bother Richard, there was something else burdening his mind.
The fitness trainer, Frank Giardina, couldn’t stay silent to what he was witnessing, and he decided that it was time to stop it. He stepped up to Pavel and spoke to him that he thought that letting the kid have a more normal life would perhaps be healthier for him, and it might have a positive effect even on the bodybuilding career.
Even his wife, Sherry started worrying about the kid. They thought that Pavel was keeping his son thin on purpose because this would make the muscles stand out even more. They spoke how the kid never had normal food. He didn’t know how normal food even looked like, because he has never seen it.
Steroids in his Drink?!
The only, main food that the kid was getting back home was the super drink that his dad gave to him. The pair of fitness trainer knew about it but didn’t know what the powdered drink actually contained. This is when rumors emerged about the possibility of the kid being fed with steroids.
When they asked Richard about what his special drink contained, he said that he didn’t know because his mother prepared the drink for him most of the time. When they asked Lena what was the drink made of and if it contained any steroids, the mother said that she didn’t know because she was scared to ask her husband because of the fact that he was starting to be violent.
Confronting the Dad
When finally Frank decided to confront Pavel Sandrak and speak about the boy’s lifestyle he was told to leave their family alone and do the things that he is actually paid for. This is when Giardina thought that he should draw the line and quit from being the kid’s fitness trainer. Would this change the kid’s life for better now?
But the thing with the trainer was not the only thing going bad for the Sandrak family. Back home, Pavel became more violent than ever, he was punching his family when they said that he was doing the wrong thing. But, no one knew about this, and in the media, the Sandrak was still the happy family with the youngest bodybuilder, but things took a turn for the worse, and soon the Sandraks’ life would change, forever!
The turning point in Richard’s life was back in 2003. He was only eleven years old back then. After the talk that the Sandraks had with Giardina, they were pushed into a rough space. This pulled out the worst that Pavel had been hiding inside. He was constantly beating his wife and taking his frustration out on her. And he wasn’t stopping.
Things were getting very bad that in the Spring of 2003, Richard was forced to call the police on Pavel. And what’s worst he begged the police to come without the sirens and the flashing lights. This was to show how Pavel made the Sandraks life a living hell. But it was finally going to end. Once Pavel was arrested and imprisoned.
Do you Miss Him?!
Not too long after his father’s arrest, Richard was interviewed about what was happening in their home. The reporters asked him if he was missing his dad, and the only thing that Richard said was that he wasn’t missing him, in fact, that it was a relief that he was finally gone. Richard didn’t let the things that were happening in his private life affect his professional life. So he kept on training, but he kept it less intense than before.
When the kid was asked on how he managed to overcome the way that his father raised him he said that he wasn’t thinking about his past a lot and that in fact, he was more focused on his future and how life was going to turn for him. He was enjoying life without his abusive father.
Under Nobody’s Influence
When his father was imprisoned Richard stopped having those strict workout routines, and the strict bodybuilding diet that his dad set for him. In fact, he didn’t even have to be the Little Hercules his father wanted him to become in the first place. This is when his former coach Frank Giardina decided to come back into his life, but there was one difference this time. Richard was able to spend some time with his friends as well as the fact that he was allowed to eat junk food at last. He quickly started becoming friends and this is when he decided to start rollerblading.
During these special times for Richard, his mother, Lena, was preparing to divorce his father Pavel. It all seemed like it was getting into its place, his life was starting to look like the life of a young boy. But, Richard still had the world of bodybuilding and all that it came with it in his future.
His Childhood Summed Up
Richard’s childhood was filled with strange big challenges that he had to overcome, but with his father’s arrest, everything started coming back to normal. He started taking up new hobbies and one of those hobbies would have a huge impact on his carrier.
After his father was arrested he was forbidden to lift weights up until he turned 16 by a social services judge. This was pretty bad for his muscles and the muscle mass, but Richard actually said that he was pretty fine with this. He stated that he wasn’t looking like a kid, instead, he said he was looking like a monster. He said that he had big muscles that were hiding his small body.
The Documentary “The World’s Strongest Boy”
A year after his imprisonment, Pavel was released, but it was decided that they were going to put him under psychiatric guidance, and he was even facing the possibility of deportation. This happened the same time while Richard was featured in a movie called “The World’s Strongest Boy”, and it all happened in the year 2004.
The movie was a documentary about the kid, his whole life story. It explained how he had the ability to bench press weights that were three times his body weight when he was only six-years-old. These facts were also accompanied by a couple of medical speculations about Richard.
Summer Full of Workouts and Film Making
The documentary “The World’s Strongest Boy” from 2004 was created by following the main star in the show Richard Sandrak for his whole summer vacation. He was no more than 11 years old at the time of filming. But he was still holding a huge fan base, and his mother helped him by maintaining a fan page for her son. She published news, images, and videos from the boy which were constantly liked by the boy’s fans.
You could also see Richard’s self-made, post-Pavel training routine that he created for himself. This routine had five days full of tough training because he was preparing for filming the trailer for the movie. But, the filmmakers noticed that despite the fact that the exercises that he was doing at the time were tough, they were nothing when compared to what his father made him do.
The Only Thing that Matters
Richard and his mom cut all the connections that were leading them back to Pavel, but Lena still told her son that he needs to pursue his bodybuilding career. She knew that he was already involved in the world of bodybuilding and he should continue riding the wave of international attention that he was getting.
So that’s when Richard’s mother decided that they needed some help. She called up Marco Garcia. His job was to work as Richard’s live-in talent manager. He needed to make sure that Richard’s career was going well, and he needed to make sure it won’t fade down. She decided that Richard’s career was the only thing that was worth saving from the past with Pavel, and she was sure that this career was going to earn Richard a place in the show biz.
As he grew older Richard kept his workout routine to 5 times a week, but now, he was able to eat whatever his heart desired, unlike the time when his father was creating his diet. At 15 he finally started feeling like an ordinary boy. Garcia was employed to normalize the kid’s life as much as possible, while still keeping his body fit and like a bodybuilder’s body should look!
Richard was still pretty famous, he even starred in a couple of videos for a workout kids series that aired on YouTube called “Workout Videos for Kids”, the goal of the series was to raise awareness in children about obesity and healthy living. He was set to help children lead an active and healthy life by implementing his talents and stories. But, this still was small compared to the break that he would get in 2009…
Where did he Go?
After staying off the TV screens for a couple of years now, the attention started getting back to him back in 2008. People started wondering where did the “Little Hercules” went and why he disappeared so unexpectedly.
In an interview with “Inside Edition,” the kid was asked a couple of questions that spiked people’s attention. He was 15 at the time of the interview and he stated that back when he was younger his father pushed him to be fit and ripped, but now Richard was the one pushing himself. He was asked if he’d ever taken steroids, and he answered that he never took steroids. He also added that he had already done some tests to see if his father put any steroids inside the drink and all of the tests showed negative.
Getting his Biggest Break Ever!
Back in 2009, Richard got his role in his debut movie called “Little Hercules in 3-D”. This happened because of his manager Garcia. Hulk Hogan and Judd Nelson were also in the movie and this was a big step forward for the 12-year-old. The film speaks about the 12-year-old Hercules who leaves Mountain Olympus to go to the Earth. His father, Zeus, doesn’t like that idea, but Hercules goes anyways. He descends in Burbank, Cali, and here he will find numerous adventures and some culture shocks as well.
Hulk Hogan was one of Richard’s biggest idols. As he puts it he never even imagined that he would get the chance to star alongside him. But this idea came to his manager Garcia, and it all happened because of him. This was not the only dream that came true because of Garcia, there were a lot more to come in the following couple of years.
This Just wasn’t for Him!
2012 came, and Richard was to star in two more action fantasy and sci-fi movies. “Assassin Priest” and “The legends of Nethiah” were the two movies that Garcia got for him. It looked like his mother’s idea to get her boy a Live-in Talent Manager was proven to be a good one after all.
It wasn’t too long after this that Richard decided that Hollywood is just not for him. So that’s when he ended his Hollywood career. But this wasn’t all, soon after he would make another decision that will turn his life upside down and he will change his life forever!
Time for a Change
Richard started realizing that his life wasn’t the normal life that any child or teenager had at the time. He had spent his whole life up to that point doing exercises, eating a strict diet, and devoting himself to the way his body looked, all to get the media attention that he didn’t even want. But, now, he was finally ready for a huge life overhaul.
Yes, he liked being the center of attention the whole time, but at one point something about him simply cliqued and changed. It was at that point that he decided that he was going to completely change his life. He wanted to change each and every part of his current lifestyle. And if you would like to find out what he did, read on!
All that Time Ago
A lot of time has passed since he first got a little bit of attention for his ripped body. And this was why the media wanted to find out what Richard Sandrak was doing nowadays. They didn’t expect to get the answers that they actually got by Richard.
The active lifestyle was always a part of Richard’s life, and no one thought that he would ever throw that away. And yes, that might be true, but not even Richard could have expected what he was going to do next. So you want to know the impact that time had on the Little Hercules?
Interviewed After a Couple of Years
Inside Edition got some inside information on how Richard Sandrak’s life and career developed since their last interview. They as well as the whole public were completely surprised after the interview. They all expected to see the older, young Hercules with the ripped and chiseled body, but oh were they wrong…
The young champion had some other ideas in mind. He started pursuing some other interests and passions, and yes, they might require him to have a fit and healthy body, they surely don’t require him to do some extreme things like bench pressing three times his bodyweight.
It’s So Unexpected
He aged a little bit. He is now 26 years old. He is a tall guy, six feet to be exact. He is also following a new trend. He is boasting a ponytail, beard, and mustache. The twenty six year old might not have the ripped body he used to have, but this doesn’t have to mean that he doesn’t have a fit and healthy body!
His body still looks athletic, but the bulging muscles are missing from his previously ripped body. No one expected him to turn his life around and pursue his new career. Inside Edition was also shocked as the whole public that followed him before.
Who Would’ve Thought
He grew, and it’s pretty noticeable. He still keeps his active lifestyle but instead of weightlifting and eating lettuce each and every day, he decided he would keep it to stair climbing, jogging, and skateboarding. These are his new hobbies and how he keeps his active lifestyle, and as he puts it, they are enough for him. This is because of his love for adrenaline, and these sports sure pump more adrenaline into his veins than weightlifting.
When asked which was the career path that Richard chose, he told them that he was surely not going to sit in an office for 8 hours straight, but no one expected him to say the things he said after this sentence…
This is my New Career
While his skateboard is home, and when he takes a break from the cool skateboarding tricks, he is doing something crazy. As he puts it, he sets himself on fire and throws himself off of buildings. Nope, you read this right! He is a professional stuntman for Universal Studios’ Waterworld Show in Hollywood.
He coldheartedly said that he sets himself on fire for the Inside Edition. His job description asks from him to throw himself off of buildings and set himself on fire. This is when I realized what he actually meant when he said that he wasn’t going to sit in an office for 8 hours straight.
Something More Exciting
He said that he is an adrenaline junkie and that weightlifting just got boring to him. This was the reason that he told Inside Edition for quitting his bodybuilding career. He found out that this wasn’t what he enjoyed doing, and he was not going to get stuck doing what he doesn’t like for the rest of his life…
At first glance, this might seem like a crazy choice by the boy, but once you think about what he actually overcame in his life it quickly looks like a piece of cake for him. Well, he doesn’t plan on doing this for too long, and the next career choice that he plans on taking is going to actually blow your mind.
Next Stop, NASA
One question stood up above all of the questions during the Inside Edition interview. And that’s what his ultimate goal was. And it’s not because of the question itself, it’s because of the answer that Richard gave to Inside Edition. As we said earlier, he didn’t plan to be a stuntman for his whole life, in fact, his dream was to become a Quantum Scientists and work as an engineer in NASA!
When Inside Edition asked him if he was seriously thinking that he could become reality he said that he didn’t see a reason why it couldn’t happen. And until this becomes his next career he was going to work as a stuntman to get the adrenaline that he needs!
He Likes Who he has Become!
Taking a look back on his bodybuilding days, he says that there’s nothing wrong with it. But he knew lots of kids that looked similar to him, and the public tried to make him out as a freak of nature, as he puts it in the interview with the Inside Edition.
He might not be the ripped bodybuilder he once was but his past made him who he is now, and he doesn’t regret any part of it. He is happy with how he looks today, including his different body type and the beard and ponytail. He thinks he is a normal person and he is never ashamed to be who he actually is, and we admire that!
Ashamed of His Past?
He knows what happened during his childhood and all the scandals that were around his family, including his father and his bodybuilding career. And he accepts them all. He stated that the documentary ”The World’s Strongest Boy” didn’t show his life exactly how it was supposed to, and they even made some bold and fake claims in there, but he wasn’t mad at them…
Taking all into consideration, Richard never thought that his childhood was bad in any way. In fact, he thinks that he did something that not a lot of people are able to do. He added that he is proud of his past and he wants people to know about it, he doesn’t want to hide it. He also said that even though he is thankful for it he is not going to get stuck living the past when he has the future in front of him. I like how he’s thinking!
Single and Ready to Mingle
Richard is still following a healthy lifestyle with a lot of exercises and some healthy diet. He also loves his past and future equally. And even though he is not as famous as before he still is happy with the privacy that he gets instead of the fame.
While he is at home, and he’s away from the fire and water in Hollywood, he is a single guy that is ready for a relationship and a new set of adventures. And, until he finds the right lady, we’re hoping he gets to where he wants to get!