What Former Child Bodybuilder Mini Mr Olympia Is Up To Today

Vince Poppleton made headlines in 2014 as a child bodybuilder. At only 12 years old, he was serious about weightlifting. He had entered bodybuilding competitions and was dubbed "Mini Mr. Olympia." "I like the feeling of being on stage, like that adrenaline rush and how I look," Poppleton told KETV in 2014 when they ran a segment on the young athlete. Although a few concerns had been raised about lifting weights as a child, Poppleton said that the workouts had done wonders for his psyche. "It gives me a ton of confidence. I feel great about myself," he told KETV.

Not only had the preteen started hitting the weights, but he took his diet seriously too. "I really wanted to suck the water out of me to look as muscular as possible," Poppleton told the news network. "I was just eating chicken and asparagus," he added. Although his father, Bill Poppleton, clarified that his son was only serious about cutting weight and water the day before a competition. This was not an example of a dad pushing a child athlete. "He just wanted to give it a try," the father added.

When the report on Poppleton was released, members of a bodybuilding forum expressed concern about how the youngster would end up. "But sad that an organization would let a 12-year-old compete like that — come on," one person wrote on GetBig.com in 2014. "Dead by 16," another warned. Poppleton wound up leading a life that likely surprised most of the detractors.

Vince Poppleton's impressive education

Even though Vince Poppleton stayed in shape years as he grew up, bodybuilding stopped being a priority for him. According to his LinkedIn profile, Poppleton was enrolled at Grand Canyon University and slated to graduate in 2024 in a field that could not have been further from bodybuilding. Poppleton studied mechanical engineering and studied programming including MATLAB and C++. "I have studied prototyping and mechanical design," he wrote. He was able to transfer what made him successful in child bodybuilding to academics. "I have a passion for innovation and a powerful drive to succeed," Poppleton wrote in his LinkedIn bio. "This has led me to be successful in my schoolwork and thrive in areas that will benefit me in the future." Poppleton also picked up summer jobs at a golf course to help make ends meet while studying.

Poppleton appears to live a well-balanced life with his friends and family. The mechanical engineering student offered a glimpse of his social life on Instagram where he uploaded snaps of trips with his family, and hijinks with his fellow students.

Fortunately, Poppleton had taken the healthy approach to weight training when he was a kid and had seemingly no ill effects from hitting the gym at such a young age. In 2014, a physical therapist told KETV that Poppleton would be fine as he trained with low weights and high reps, but child bodybuilding had become a point of contention.

Little Hercules and bodybuilding kids

An article released by the Mayo Clinic in January took a look at young bodybuilders titled "Strength Training: OK for kids?" The findings determined that kids, such as Vince Poppleton when he was 12 years old, could be fine if they avoided heavy weights. "Trying to build big muscles can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons, and areas of cartilage that haven't yet turned to bone," the Mayo Clinic wrote.

Another young bodybuilder had made headlines before "Mini Mr. Olympia." That young athlete did not adhere as strictly to the rules. Richard Sandrak, called "Little Hercules," went viral as a chiseled 8-year-old. By the time he was 11, Sandrak was named the World's Strongest Boy. In 2015, the former "Little Hercules" was 23 years old and left his bodybuilding days behind. "I don't lift weights anymore. If anything, it just got boring to me," he told Inside Edition. Sandrak's dad was accused of over-exerting his son at the gym and he went to prison for domestic abuse when Sandrak was 11 years old. That is when the child gave up bodybuilding.

Even though he gave up weightlifting, Sandrak was still proud of what he was able to accomplish at that age. Similar to Poppleton, the former bodybuilder had aspirations of working in an academic field. "Quantum scientist. More specifically maybe even an engineer for NASA," Sandrak told Inside Edition when discussing his future career goals.