As a winner of three Olympic gold medals, Halil Mutlu (b. 1973) definitely belongs to the all-time pantheon of the best Olympic weightlifters. Due to personal charisma and success in sports Mutlu is considered a successor of legendary "Pocket Hercules" Naim Suleymanoglu who was his idol and, for some time, his coach in weightlifting.
In fact, there are many similarities in the biographies of both Suleymanoglu and Mutlu. Both are ethnic Turks who were born and grew up in Bulgaria, a country famous for its world-class lifters. Both moved to Turkey. However, unlike Suleymanoglu who entered the international weightlifting arena representing Bulgaria, Mutlu relocated to Turkey at an early age in his career. Both became legends of weightlifting while competing in lighter weight classes. And of course, both won three Olympic gold medals.
Despite many similarities with Suleymanoglu, Mutlu is an outstanding lifter of his own merit. Standing at 4´11´´, he proved to be a unique athlete in terms of his technical skills and competitive spirit. Mutlu dominated in his weightclass since mid 1990s. He won the Summer Olympics in 1996 and 2000. But prior to Athens, several experts became skeptical that Mutlu would be able to pass his younger and more aggressive opponents at the Olympics in 2004.
In August 2004, Halil Mutlu proved that any doubts about his supremacy in the weight class he was competing in were wrong. At 31, he captured his third consecutive gold medal at the Olympics in Athens and announced that he is ready to challenge his opponents at the next Olympics in 2008.