The problem of Cheick Ahmed al-Hassan Sanou was obesity while growing up. At 16, he was weighing 122kg and measuring 190cm with a 48 inch chest in his home country, Burkina Faso. Born in 1992, Biby as he was called was different from his siblings in weight. He was actually born big at birth weighing almost 5kg.
Even though, he was wobble and big, he wanted to be a sprinter. Biby told BBC “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.”
He was body shamed when he tried his hands on gymnastics. Each time he landed on the mat, the exaggerated reaction from his body was something that never left his memory. He was desperate to do somersaults and back flips that he learnt and practice with his sibling until he was able to master the skill.
He ended up getting accustomed to the fun and bully he experienced, but hated himself for being fat. Even though he was the youngest in his class, he looked years older than everyone including his older brothers.
He endured the body shaming without fight until he discovered that he was very strong. He started looking for ways to slim down that when his brother travelled overseas, they started searching for a machine that will trim his stomach down.
He started eating banana and lettuce but that did not work, and took to the Burkinabe food which is peanut butter soup and rice. Finally, he left Africa for Canada where he joined the gym. Life started making meaning when he was selected as part of the basketball team.
However, it was during his university years that he started training with weight”I noticed that a lot of people in the gym struggled to lift the heavy weights, but for me they were relatively easy.” He was good in lifting weight that he won his first power lifting competition, he went on to compete in the national weight lifting championship.
“My brothers used to call me Biby and the name followed me around, but when I started becoming known for power lifting, I became Iron Biby,” he recalled. He started improving and climbing the success ladder as Iron Biby. “My plan is to be the strongest human being on earth and to take the title of world strongest man to Burkina Faso,” he said.
Iron Biby has become an inspiration to many Burkinabes who are ready to change their world in their career pursuits. He has been able to shame those who once taunted him as fat, as a strong person who is determined to become the strongest man on earth. This is something that has given him the hope and courage he desire, to make a difference and become a role model to those who are body shamed.