I remember when things first started to go viral on the internet, one of the biggest stories we saw was "Little Hercules." Little Hercules, whose real name is Richard Sandrak, became a sensation when photos of him circulated doing insane workouts.
Quickly dubbed the "World's Strongest Boy," Sandrak's picture was everywhere. Even if you didn't know who he was, you knew what he looked like.
Sandrak's six-pack and biceps gained immediate attention, with many people claiming the photos couldn't be real at all. When it came out that he was in fact that muscular, criticism immediately fell on his parents.
His father was trained in Taekwondo and introduced the young Ukrainian boy to training and stretching when he was very young. As time went on, the family decided to move to California with the hopes of Sandrak breaking into show business. They hired a personal trainer, Frank Giardina, to help gain publicity for their son.
According to Giardina, Sandrak's father would make him do 600 push-ups, 600 sit-ups, and 300 squats every day. His diet was also extremely strict, with a head of lettuce sometimes being all he ate for dinner.
Despite the harsh conditions, Sandrak said it wasn't forced upon him.
"I've never been forced to train or do anything against my will", he claimed. "My parents used to train all the time and I wanted to join in. It was mostly my choice. It's just what I grew up doing. I was never forced. It was never an issue."
Giardina ended up quitting as Sandrak's personal trainer, finding the scrutiny from the public to be way too much to deal with. He did find his way back to the young boy, however, after Sandrak's father was arrested and sent to prison for assaulting his wife. Sandrak is the one who called police.
Little Hercules had a few years of fame before people stopped caring about his muscles. At 15 years old, Sandrak was still training like crazy but lived a more "normal" life. His live-in manager, Mario Garcia, helped him learn what it was like to be a teenager in California. He was allowed to eat junk food, hang out with other kids, and do nothing all day if that's what he wanted.
Now, at 26 years old, Richard Sandrak is more or less unrecognizable.
The former viral sensation still likes to keep fit, but it's a far cry from his six-pack and bulging biceps days. He no longer sticks to his intense workout regiment, and his reasoning is pretty basic.
"If anything, it just got boring," he told Inside Edition.
He also reiterated that his muscular physique at such a young age wasn't all the wild.
"People seemed to try to make me out to be a freak of nature but there were many kids who had similar physiques," he pointed out.
As for whether or not he regrets his past, Sandrak says it's something he looks back on fondly.
"I'm very proud of my past. It's not something I don't want people to know, it's just that I'm not going to be stuck living in it," he explained.
So what is Sandrak up to now, then?
"I light myself on fire," he said nonchalantly.
Of course, it's not just for fun. As of 2015, Sandrak was a stuntman in Universal Studios Hollywood's "˜Waterworld' show. He gets shot at, set on fire, and jumps off a platform from 50 feet above ground.
But in the future, Sandrak has higher hopes for himself. Inside Edition asked him what his dream job would be, and he was quick to answer.
"Quantum scientist. More specifically maybe even an engineer for NASA," he replied.
With dedication like he has, it's hard to imagine Sandrak won't accomplish his goals!
Do you remember "Little Hercules?"