If you think the internet is a strange place today, you need only look back on a viral phenomenon like Little Hercules to realize what it used to feel like to be online. Little Hercules was a young, strong bodybuilder named Richard Sandrak who briefly took over the internet because of the impressive musculature he had for his age. Now, more than a decade after his brief period of fame, many want to know what happened to Little Hercules.
Who was Little Hercules?
Little Hercules was a young boy with incredible strength. He was known as "The World's Strongest Boy," and was also the subject of a documentary with that name. According to reporting in ABC, when Richard was just 8 years old, he weighed 80 pounds and could benchpress twice that. At that time, it made him the strongest person in the world, pound for pound.
Richard became interested in weight lifting when he was just a toddler and was apparently inspired by his athletic parents. His parents encouraged the interests, hoping that they could transform it into a long-term career.
Their ploy paid off, as Richard quickly wracked up endorsements and became famous online as a boy who was freakishly strong for his age.
What happened to Little Hercules?
After a childhood spent lifting weights, Richard left it behind as he entered adulthood. In an interview with Inside Edition in 2015, he showed off a much more normal build and explained that he was no longer lifting weights "I don't lift weights anymore, it got boring to me," he said in the interview.
Richard also commented on his relationship with his father, which had been reported on as contentious for years. Eventually, his father, Pavel, was arrested for hitting his mother, Lena. Some also suspected that Pavel hit Richard, although that allegation was never confirmed. In an interview with The Guardian, Lena said that she was concerned about how Pavel treated Richard but said that he didn't physically abuse his son.
Pavel did use other forms of abuse, though, including forcing Richard to sleep on the ground to improve his posture and forbidding him from playing with other kids until he was 10. It was also reported that Richard didn't have any of the toys a normal child would have. In speaking with Inside Edition, Richard said that he was no longer in contact with his father.
"People seemed to try to make me out to be a freak of nature but there were many kids who had similar physiques," he said in the interview. After leaving the world of bodybuilding, Richard got a job working at Universal Studios. He worked at Waterworld at the time, and one of his regular duties was to set himself on fire several times a day.
Since that interview, Richard has been relatively quiet. He's mostly faded from public view, although he added that his ultimate dream was to work as a quantum scientist, and maybe even for NASA.