Hossein Reza Zadeh (Persian: حسین رضازاده , born May 12, 1978) is an Iranian weightlifter and the current world record holder in the sport. He was born in Ardabil, Iran, the third of seven children. At the age of 15, he took up weightlifting after being encouraged by his gym teacher.
Nicknamed “The Iranian Hercules,” he currently holds the world records in weightlifting’s super heavyweight class in the snatch, clean and jerk and total. He is the first Iranian athlete to have won two Olympic gold medals. He is also one of Iran’s most noted celebrities, frequently appearing on television and in the news; his wedding, which was held in the holy city of Mecca, in February of 2003 was broadcast live on television in Iran.
In 2002 he was voted the “Champion of Champions” of Iran and was one of 16 Iranian athletes granted a badge of courage from Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. As a reward for setting a world record at the 2003 World Weightlifting Championships in Vancouver, Canada, Mohammad Khatami awarded him 600 million rials (a little more than 60,000 USD) to buy a house in Tehran. Turkey has offered him substantial sums of money to switch nationality, but he turned down her offers.
This was dramatically illustrated when Olympic gold medallist, Naim S?leymanoğlu (himself a Bulgarian Turkish migrant) asked Reza Zadeh to renounce his Iranian nationality, accept Turkish citizenship and join the Turkish Olympic team.
After his spectacular performance, he was offered by Turkey?s Weightlifting Federation sum of US$20,000 a month, as well as a luxury villa and US$10 million reward if he switches flag and wins gold for the country at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He responded to Suleimanoghlu?s offer with the following statement: “I am an Iranian and love my country and people.” He had similar offers from the Republic of Azerbaijan but declined these offers as well.
He surprised many at the 2000 Summer Olympics, earning a gold medal and breaking the decades-old monopoly on the gold by the Soviet Union and then Russia. His gold medal was the first since 1960 by a non-Soviet or non-Russian athlete in the over 105 kg class at a non boycotted Games.
He has since broken his own records on a number of occasions leading up to his world record 263.5 kg (580.9 pounds) lift in the clean and jerk at the 2004 Summer Olympics. His total (both lifts combined) at the 2004 Summer Olympics of 472.5 kg was 17.5 kg more than silver medalist Viktors Scerbatihs. He is the current IWF World Weightlifter of the Year, and was shortlisted for weightlifter of the century.
Reza Zadeh’s supremacy in the superheavyweight class has been virtually unchallenged in recent years. However, although he has not been pushed hard by his competition, he is still in pursuit of the all-time best IWF marks of 216 kg snatch (Antonio Krastev, 1987), 266 kg clean and jerk (Leonid Taranenko, 1988), and 476 kg total (Taranenko, 1988). Even though they exceed Reza Zadeh’s marks, these lifts are no longer the official world records due to the IWF’s restructuring of weight classes.
As of 2003, Reza Zadeh was 185 cm tall and weighed 155.9 kg