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      The Nine-Year-Old Romanian Strongman and His Pissed-off Dad

      By Mihai Popescu

      August 26, 2013

      Image via YouTube

      Giuliano Stroe is probably the strongest nine-year-old on the planet. The Romanian boy started lifting weights when he was two and has set world records for doing push-ups without letting his feet touch the ground and running on his hands with weights tied to his legs, along the way acquiring about 15,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 150,000 Facebook fans—and flexing his muscles on Romania’s Got Talent. All of this is thanks to his dad, Iulian, who is known for pushing Giuliano and his younger brother Claudiu (who’s also a mini strongman) hard while asking for donations from fans so he can make his sons more “pumped up.”

      Eventually, all the hype got the attention of the Romanian equivalent of child services, which frowns on little kids working out for hours at a time. (You can see the chiseled physique that worried some people in the image above.) Social workers asked the courts to place the children under their care and filed a complaint against Iulian. Since then, the father has been going on rants on Facebook and YouTube against journalists, doctors, his neighbors, and the social workers, to whom he supposedly said, “Oy! I’ll beat you so hard that your ass will jump out of your mouth!” (I reached out to him, but he refused to speak to me.) 

      In June, Iulian won back custody of his boys in court, partially thanks to a document signed by neurologist Naie Niculina that claimed Giuliano is “well developed from a psychomotor point of view.” But when I spoke to Naie, she clarified that she wasn’t really on team Stroe. “I only said he doesn’t have any mental illnesses,” she said, “not that I agree with those absurd workouts he’s been through.” 

      Ra˘dit¸a˘ Piros¸ca, the president of Child Services Olt, said that the government wasn’t trying to take the muscled kids away from their family, just make sure that they were healthy. “We only wanted to oblige [the parents] to cooperate with us,” she told me. “Even if we won, or if we will win the appeal, we just want to make sure, without being stalled by the parents, that the results from the children’s medical tests show they are normally developed, physically and mentally.”

      As of this writing, one of the latest posts on Giuliano’s Facebook page was a message in Romanian thanking the court and the judges for their decision, but Iulian or whoever wrote it couldn’t resist a shot at his detractors: “Shame on you know who,” it smugly concluded.

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