A Russian sumo wrestler who was dubbed the ‘world’s strongest kid’ weighing 23 stone when he was nine, has died at the age of 21 from acute kidney problems.
Dzhambulat Khatokhov, nicknamed Gladiator by his classmates, rose to fame at the age of three when he was hailed the strongest and heaviest child on the planet.
His passing was announced by Betal Gubzhev, 29, the president of Sumo and Mass Wrestling Federation of Kabardino-Balkaria, the Russian region where he lived.
The cause of death has not been revealed by his family but reports say he had suffered from acute kidney problems amid deep concern for his weight and health.
At the age of six, Dzhambulat weighed 15 stone and wore size ten shoes.He became known around the world as a young boy and featured in several TV documentaries.
His mother Nelya, a nurse, then 42, hit back at the time in the international media at claims she was neglecting the health of her child.
‘He is just growing — upwards and outwards. What can I do about it? This is who he is, this is how God created him,’ she said.
At birth he had weighed a typical 6lb 6oz but by his first birthday he was more than two stone.
He was examined by a British doctor Ian Campbell who warned in 2009: ‘Jambik’s health is dire. His weight means he has a greatly increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
As a result of being so heavy so young, his life expectancy is likely to be greatly reduced.’
According to his mother, local and Moscow doctors couldn’t find any medical problem causing his excess weight.
‘We have been through various examinations. Every doctor wanted to find something to explain why Jambik is so big,’ she said at the time.
‘None of them discovered anything. When he was five I took him to Moscow clinics where we did all the available tests, organ scans and tests on hormones.
‘But these showed he’s absolutely healthy and his heart, liver and everything else is proportional to his size. They say he is healthy so I don’t worry. I believe he’ll live a long and happy life.’
She denied putting him on steroids, but encouraged him being called the ‘world’s strongest boy’.
She hit back at her critics: ‘Do people think I am a killer? Can they really suggest that a mother can do this to her child?
‘Look at his medical record. Do they think I started feeding him with steroids when he was two months old? It’s preposterous. I love my son and I will not do anything to harm his health.’
His first wrestling coach in Nalshik admitted it was hard to train him.
Khasan Teusvazhukov, 48, said: ‘He usually does running and gymnastics but I do not give him full exercises.
‘He won’t be able to do most of these anyway because of his size.
‘We try to be cautious with him. The doctors may say he is fine, but he doesn’t look like it and I do not want to cause him any damage.’
Speaking when he was younger, his mother said: ‘He likes showing people how strong he is.
‘It makes him a kind of superhero, a giant who can protect and care for everyone around. He likes to lift me or his brother around the place.’
Speaking when he was six, she said: ‘He eats normal portions, the same as his brother.
‘He might ask for more if he’s really hungry but I never noticed he eats abnormally much.
‘Maybe he eats a bit more than other kids his age, but he is bigger than them though he never eats more than an adult man….
‘I can’t say how it happens. He just grew bigger and bigger – upwards and outwards. God created him that way.’
Gubzhev said: ‘The first sumo wrestler of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic Dzhambulat Khatokhov has passed away.
‘My condolences to his relatives and friends.’
By Jide N.