Recently I was talking about a unique jock boy Giuliano Stroe and you liked this story, but not everyone will remember that there was another popular jock boy before him, who was considered the strongest teenager in the world, and I will tell you about how his life turned out today. In the early 2000s, a small and very strong young bodybuilder named Richard Sandrak became very popular, already at the age of six, Richard amazed the audience with his athletic form, impressing and scaring people with muscles more characteristic of an adult man. He was immediately dubbed “little Hercules”. But how did it all start? Richard was born in 1992 in Ukraine. At the age of two, he and his parents emigrated to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania.
The boy showed interest in sports in early childhood, inspired by his own athletic parents: his father Pavel Sandrak was a world champion in martial arts, and his mother Lena was professionally engaged in aerobics. Athletic loads were easy for the boy, and the results were amazing, especially considering Richard’s age. The father noticed this and began to train his son with a serious approach. He wanted to make his son the most famous young bodybuilder. Of course, money would have come with fame. But the prospects of the sons were small in provincial Pennsylvania, and therefore in 1999 the family decided to move to another state, to the city of Los Angeles. Parents have been looking for a trainer for Richard for a long time and after talking with many fitness professionals, they decided to turn to Frank Jardine, he was a celebrity trainer and co-owner of a famous fitness club.
Jardine was impressed by the 7-year-old boy’s form and agreed to train him. However, Pavel still had the last word–both in the gym and outside it. Gradually, Richard Sandrak formed his body as professional bodybuilders. And His training minimum shocked even adults: 600 push-ups, 600 repetitions of abs exercises and 300 squats. And this is not counting intensive martial arts classes and special stretching. His physical indicators were incredible, by the age of eight he was pressing 95 kilograms from his chest, it was a real sensation and his shows were becoming more and more popular. Fans gathered in droves to see Sandark at bodybuilding events. “We had more people at our booth than at any 25 booths combined… I mean hundreds of people, as if they were going to meet Elvis Presley,” Frank Jardine said of the boy’s impressive popularity.
Richard participated in the most popular American bodybuilding shows at that time: “Mr. Olympia” Mr. USA”, “Arnold Classic”. Richard appeared on the covers of print publications, he was invited to a TV show. He even had his own US tour. By the year 2000, the boy was performing on the largest stages of the country. But despite the success, all this activity was seriously criticized. The child was subjected to such a strict training program and diet that eventually even the coach decided to abandon the case, calling Pavel’s parenting style “criminal.” In a 2003 interview, the coach said that Richard “didn’t have toys at home, didn’t have a bike. He didn’t have a skateboard. He was never allowed to go outside. He never went to the park.” It is also known that the boy’s diet was limited, so, for example, he did not eat sweets at all.
But later, in 2007, the boy’s mother said that although she was “concerned” about how Pavel treated her son, she denied that he was pressured to become a bodybuilder, or that he was subjected to abuse, later Richard himself confirmed these words and said that he was engaged in following the example their parents, not under duress. There was also speculation in the media that Sandrak’s big muscles were not just the result of hard work. The publication noted that medical experts are skeptical that the boy could develop such a physique at such a young age without the help of steroids – which the parents categorically denied, saying that their son trained for several hours every day. But everything ends sometime, and the popularity of the young bodybuilder began to fade.
And in April 2003, his father brutally beat his mother Elena, for which he received a sentence. Without his father, Richard also continued to train, but with less zeal, he even starred in a movie, In 2005 a documentary about him was released – “The Strongest boy in the World”, and in 2009 Sandrak played in the movie “The Adventures of Little Hercules in 3D”. Later, he participated in a couple more projects, but eventually disappeared from the field of view of the media. But what is the once famous “little Hercules” doing now.? It turned out that Richard eventually gave up bodybuilding. His last interview was filmed in 2015, when he was 23 years old, he looked like an ordinary guy of his age.
Leaving his bodybuilding days behind, Sandrak got a job as a stuntman at the Universal Studios Waterworld show in Los Angeles, where his duties included setting himself on fire several times a day. Richard is still physically active, but claims he would rather set himself on fire or jump out of a building than “carry iron.” In an interview, Richard stated that he does not contact his father, but notes that he is proud of his past, choosing intensive children’s training. He also confirmed once again that his parents did not force him to do anything, he just wanted to join them in sports. Since that 2015 interview, Sandrak has been keeping a low profile.
He doesn’t seem to have any verified public accounts on social media, although there are many scammers who pretend to be Little Hercules. But one of the Instagram profiles looks like a real one, and judging by it, Richard probably now works as a cook or in this field, he likes to skate and bike and lives an ordinary unremarkable life. It seems that a busy childhood in the role of “little Hercules” gave Richard all possible impressions of fame. And now he’s just enjoying a normal life, at least in an interview in 2015, he considered himself really happy.