Cheick Ahmed al-Hassan Sanou was always overweight, but he didn’t know how strong he was until he threw one of his tormentors across a room.
His is a remarkable story of a bullied teenager becoming a serious contender for the title of World’s Strongest Man.
If you are 16, weigh 19 stone (122kg; 268 lbs), measure 6’2″ (190cm) and boast a 48-inch chest, the chances are that you will stand out – and Cheick Ahmed al-Hassan Sanou certainly did.
Born in Burkina Faso in 1992, Biby as he is fondly called, noticed aged just five that he was different to his siblings due to his weight, and that it was a bit of an issue.
“My mum said I was big from birth – weighing almost 5kg and breathing heavily – not like a baby,” he laughed as he reminisced about his childhood.
“I wanted to be a sprinter – I had a bit of speed even though I was big,” he told me.
“But whenever I ran, and my body would wobble, the kids at school would laugh so much and point at me calling me ‘Fat Boy’. It was as if I was entertainment to them, so I gave up on that – but I never stopped wanting to be an athlete.”