When we think of bodybuilders, our minds usually conjure up the giants of the sport, like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno – aka the original Incredible Hulk. But there’s a new competitor in the field whose sheer size makes those titans look miniscule in comparison. And his name is Sajad Gharibi.
Hailing from Bushehr in Iran, Gharibi is a 24-year-old weightlifter who takes bulking up to incredible extremes. And ever since he started posting pictures to his Instagram account in early 2015, he has steadily been making the internet’s jaw drop with his mind-boggling physique.
Indeed, his frame is nothing to be sniffed at. Sporting 342 pounds of solid muscle, Gharibi is not a man that we’d like to face in a fight. And the fact that he can reportedly lift up to 386 pounds in weights makes his nickname, The Persian Hulk, absolutely appropriate.
And while his bulk is certainly impressive enough on its own, it becomes even more astounding when he’s put next to everyday citizens. For example, the contrast between this fist-bumping fan and Gharibi shows just how much work the weightlifter has put in to achieve his massive build.
To put it into further context, at 348 pounds, Gharibi is heavier than an adult American black bear or twice the mass of a baby elephant. He’s also 100 pounds heavier than Thor Björnsson, the Icelandic heavyweight who plays the monstrous Gregor Clegane on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
But those who want a body like Gharibi’s should know that success doesn’t come easy. In fact, it requires some pretty grueling work. For instance, in this photo Gharibi displays burns he sustained after placing his hand in hot charcoal for almost 20 seconds – an endurance exercise that takes the phrase “no pain, no gain” to its limit.
Besides his passion for pumping iron, Gharibi is also deeply committed to his country and has proudly represented Iran in both powerlifting and bodybuilding competitions. And with muscles like his, we certainly feel bad for anyone who has to compete with him on an international level.
Like most bodybuilders, Gharibi loves to post pictures of his progress online. But he in particular has managed to accumulate a level of recognition and respect that most mortals could only dream of. Because so far his Instagram account has over 170,000 followers, while his Facebook page has garnered an impressive 7,000 likes.
Naturally, his photos have inspired shock and awe across the internet. And his followers regularly flood his Instagram account with comments expressing their amazement. “I’m thinking one of his arms is probably the equivalent of me,” wrote one incredulous fan, while a female admirer gushed, “I found my future husband!”
His influence has even extended into the showbiz world, with his presence being felt as far afield as Hollywood. Because upon seeing his photos, Django Unchained star Jamie Foxx couldn’t hold his excitement together and enthused that “this guy doesn’t even need CGI.”
However, not all comments have been entirely positive. Unfortunately his photos have somehow spurred scurrilous rumors against Gharibi. Indeed, some remarks even allude to a physical similarity between Gharibi and the infamous ISIS executioner “The Bulldozer,” leading to ridiculous accusations that the two are actually the same man.
Similarly, another rumor began circulating earlier this year that Gharibi – instead of being an ISIS agent – was in fact training to take the terrorist group head-on in Syria. The vast majority of people online, not least Gharibi himself, met this notion with incredulity.
And as is often the case with rumors like this, Gharibi had been misunderstood. Because an Instagram video in which he pledged his allegiance to his country had been taken wholly out of context. Nevertheless, he’s not one to hold a grudge and his response showed him to be a bigger man than his haters.
“There are lots of rumors that are dishonoring me,” he humbly wrote on his Telegram account. “But I forgive the people who have spread [them].” We don’t think we could have put it any better ourselves.
And so it seems that – unlike the real Hulk – Gharibi is not a man who lets his anger get the better of him. Moreover, in contrast to his fearsome appearance, those who know him best report that Gharibi is a kindhearted man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
For example, would a hulking monster ever post a shot like this? This photo – taken while visiting a stricken friend in hospital – shows a caring, sensitive soul hiding behind the muscle, demonstrating that there’s more to Gharibi than meets the eye.
Alongside shots like these, Gharibi also likes to divulge his day-to-day activities and often shows off a more playful side in the process. This image for example sees him in the middle of preparing a meal – one of many we assume the juggernaut eats in order to maintain his monstrous mass.
Outside of bodybuilding, Gharibi is an avid gamer who likes nothing more than to unwind with blockbuster titles like Uncharted. He’s also a huge fan of wrestling and his social media pages are peppered with shout-outs to WWE heroes like Brock Lesnar and Triple H.
In short, although he may look mean on the outside, you’d be mistaken for judging Gharibi on his bulk alone. To prove that there’s more to him than just muscles, Gharibi recently starred in a short film. What’s more, he’s also hinted at an interest in joining his wrestling idols in the ring.
While he may be at the top of his game, Gharibi assures his fans that the best is yet to come. “I don’t want anyone in my sport […] to make any judgment until I achieve my true potential,” he writes on Instagram. We can’t wait to see what he does next.