The Untold Truth Of The World's Tallest Bodybuilder

From Little Hercules to Ronnie Coleman, bodybuilders of all ages have never failed to fascinate the public. Perhaps it has something to do with just how dangerous the sport is — bodybuilding training can cause severe injuries — or the fact that the results can be so dramatic. Whatever the reason, though, bodybuilders have reached a new level of popularity, and many are finding fame outside the gym. Perhaps the best example of all time is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has had quite the transformation from Mr. Olympia to a Hollywood megastar.

Over the years, others have followed similar paths, including Lou Ferrigno, Dwayne Johnson, and John Cena. More recently, Olivier Richters (whose nickname is The Dutch Giant) has broken out of his native Netherlands and onto the big screen. As the 7-foot-2-inch Richters explained in a 2022 video posted to his YouTube channel, he was inspired to transform his body, so his height was no longer the only thing people talked about. "I couldn't change people staring at me, but I could do something about this body," he mused. And while his muscles are the result of an intense workout and diet routine, his height is totally natural. "I don't have any genetic defects," he told Guinness World Records in 2021. "They called me a natural giant and I'm very thankful for that because I can live a normal healthy life, but as a giant." Now, he's trying to take over Hollywood with roles in Marvel flicks and the "Indiana Jones" franchise. Here's everything you need to know about the world's tallest bodybuilder.

Olivier Richters thought his height was a 'curse'

Long before Olivier Richters built an entire career around his record-breaking height, he was a skinny teenager who couldn't seem to stop growing. In fact, the Dutch Giant was taller than most from the moment he was born. Despite being a premature baby, he was just under 2 feet (that's four inches taller than average) and could barely fit in his incubator. By 14, he had already hit 6-foot-6, and by 19, he reached his full 7-foot-2 scale.

Speaking with Men's Health NL in 2019, Richters said he was never bullied by others but admitted he always gave himself a hard time. "I felt like Goofy: tall, slender, lanky, a bit like a walking skeleton," he told the magazine. "Feeling like that made me quiet and an introvert." He also shared a similar sentiment on his website, noting that he felt especially insecure about his appearance because he thought he wasn't bulky enough for his height. "The mirror made me sad," he wrote. "It felt like I was born with a curse." It didn't help that, as he shared in a 2022 YouTube video, "People just couldn't stop staring at me wherever I went." And so, Richters decided to transform his body, going from 176 pounds in 2009 to a whopping 331 pounds in 2016. "It was a constant discipline of eating and exercising — I never stopped — and yes, I broke my curse," he enthused on his website.

The Dutch Giant started bodybuilding to overcome insecurity

Olivier Richters never wanted to be a bodybuilder per se. Rather, he started bulking up because he wasn't happy with the way his exceptionally tall frame looked at just 176 pounds. As he shared on Instagram, "Being [7-foot-2] with that little weight doesn't make you happy when you look in the mirror." In 2008, when he was 19 and fully grown, he started weight training, as well as eating — a lot. "I stuffed my face with everything I could find," he told Men's Health NL in 2019. That resulted in him gaining mostly body fat, rather than muscle, so soon, he schooled himself on nutrition. Just two years later, he was 44 pounds heavier — then he hit a wall in his third year of serious training.

Unsure how to break through the plateau, Richters started reading online bodybuilding forums and watching all of pro bodybuilder Jay Cutler's videos, which turned him onto the bodybuilder lifestyle. That helped him put on another 110 pounds in five years, and by 2022, he weighed 347 pounds. Richters celebrated the milestone on Instagram, noting he was excited to hit one final goal: "On the road to [353 pounds] where I will finally have doubled my weight," he wrote.

Pectus excavatum made his dream transformation difficult

In addition to having to learn the ins and outs of nutrition and fitness, Olivier Richters had a significant physical hurdle to overcome in his transformation journey. Richters was diagnosed with pectus excavatum, sometimes called funnel chest, which the Mayo Clinic explains is a condition in which the breastbone gradually sinks into the chest. Patients can experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, and trouble exercising. Indeed, as the Dutch Giant shared on Instagram, he was forced to concede in 2011 that he could no longer work out like he wanted to because of pectus excavatum. "During exercises my muscles could continue in reps, but my breath could not," he explained. What's more, doctors made a concerning discovery. "Scans showed that my hearts' [sic] size was decreased by 20%," he wrote.

Surgery was the only option, but a difficult road lay ahead of him. The procedure involved breaking eight ribs, and five months of rehab followed. Luckily, it was successful and by 2012, Richters was exercising again and back to his pre-surgery bulk of 254 pounds. Then, he just kept going. "In 2013 I felt unstoppable with a heart that got 20% more power/volume," he enthused. "I could train without getting out of breath, walking stairs without needing to stop etc." That year, he hit a new weight milestone: 276 pounds.

He's the CEO of several successful businesses

Olivier Richters is cashing in on his moniker with a line of bodybuilding-approved products called Dutch Giant Nutrition. The range includes muscle-building supplements, vitamins, and recovery products, and he was inspired to create them by his own journey. "When building my physique, supplements have always been part of my diet," he explains on the brand's site. "Since my body is my profession, I only want the best – this is what prompted me to create my own supplement line." In 2013, he upped the ante by launching his own online supermarket called Muscle Meat, which sells Dutch Giant Nutrition alongside hundreds of other products. From frozen ready-made meals to meal prep essentials, Richters goal was to create frozen dishes containing plenty of meat and protein. "Meat is hard to find in standard ready-made supermarket meals," he notes on the brand's website. Whereas other companies max out at 70 grams, he pushed his range to include between 100 and 150 grams of meat and 30 to 50 grams of protein.

What's more, Richters also started a clothing brand in 2021 called Tall Origin. Its aim was to provide fashionable options, specifically pants, to the tallest of men. Available in 10 different designs, the jeans were made in 13 sizes catered to shoppers between 6'3" and 7'3" tall.

Olivier Richters' acting career was inspired by a James Bond villain

Once Olivier Richters went into business for himself and Muscle Meat started taking off, he had the luxury of creating his own work schedule. That, in turn, provided him with the opportunity to pursue acting and chase as many auditions as he desired. "I signed up for six free agencies online in the Netherlands," Richters recalled of his humble beginnings. That led to various commercials, even a soap opera, but they were all bit parts. He was sure his big break had come when he was invited to audition for the role of "Chewbacca," but The Dutch Giant was too broad-chested for Chewy. "I set myself a new goal," he said. "I want to be in a movie released worldwide in the cinemas."

Richters started reaching out to casting directors, attended the Cannes Film Festival on a whim, and even flew to Los Angeles to meet famed producer Mike Medavoy, and yet, things didn't turn around until he met the equally tall Spencer Wilding (aka Darth Vader), who stands at 6-foot-7, at Comic Con Utrecht. Wilding agreed to pass Richters' portfolio around, and soon, he had an agent and his career was finally taking off. Surprisingly, though, it's not Wilding he looked up to as the roles stacked up. Rather, he drew inspiration from another 7-foot-2 star: Richard Kiel. The actor played villain Jaws in two "James Bond" films and Richters was a fan from childhood. "He was one of the reasons why I would love to get into the movie industry," he told Good Morning Britain.

Was he the MCU's first mutant?

Once Spencer Wilding decided to vouch for Olivier Richters, Hollywood soon came calling. Not long after their chance encounter, Richters started attending casting calls regularly in January 2019, and by August, he had some major titles under his belt. First, he auditioned for "Men in Black" (he didn't get that role) and "Maleficent 2," but that part was ultimately scrapped. Then, he attended a four-hour casting session for "The King's Man," and finally, he achieved his goal of landing a major film. Things only got better from there with a role on HBO's "Gangs of London," after which he was invited to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as Ursa Major in 2021's "Black Widow." Once the news broke, he wrote cheekily on Instagram, "If someone in 2018 told me my career in the movie industry would start like this, I would have called an ambulance for him."

Upon the film's release in 2021, The Dutch Giant celebrated on Instagram, recalling, "When production on set told me who I really was in 'Black Widow,' I let some tears of joy in my hotel room, because my movie dream became true: being an official comic superhero." He also stirred up some controversy, claiming Ursa Major (who can transform into a brown bear larger than The Hulk) was the first mutant to appear in the MCU. Skeptics weren't convinced of his claim, but after some thorough timeline exploration, Screen Rant concluded he was right.

Olivier Richters' wild diet includes up to 7,000 calories a day

It takes a lot of protein to maintain a physique as shredded as Olivier Richters' — and we do mean a lot. As he told Guinness World Records in 2021, he eats seven meals a day, each clocking in at 1,000 calories and delivering 60 grams of protein. As he told Men's Health NL, that means he actually has to set the alarm for 3 a.m. so he doesn't miss his seventh meal. "I think this life isn't possible for normal people," he mused. As for why it's so imperative he take in 7,000 calories a day, he told Men's Health in 2022, "If I go under, I drop [2.2 pounds] of weight per day — that's how ridiculous this body is."

The only thing Richters has changed over the years is that he'll now dial down his daily intake to 5,000 calories and 300 grams if a particular acting role requires him to slim down slightly. His newfound career in Hollywood has also forced him to simplify his menu to better match his on-the-go lifestyle. A 700-calorie oat shake has become a staple for Richters because he can gulp it down in a minute without slowing down production on-set. And while he concedes it's not exactly tasty, it is efficient, and that's what he cares about. "It's 150 grams of oats, 50 grams of whey protein with vanilla flavor, and enough water so it isn't cement," he quipped to Men's Health.

The Dutch Giant was going to turn down his Guinness World Records title

Olivier Richters has always lived up to his Dutch Giant nickname, and now, he has a Guinness World Records title to prove it. In 2021, Richters, who stands at 7 feet and 1.9 inches, was certified as the tallest non-competitive bodybuilder in the world. Interestingly, as he revealed on Instagram, he initially wanted to turn down the title. "I said no, because the definition of a bodybuilder is not clear," he wrote. His biggest issue was that there are two distinct types of bodybuilders: those who compete professionally and those like him "who perform the sport for a different reason, like me as a profession/non-competitive."

In the end, Guinness reps agreed and decided to create two separate records (one for each category) so Richters could gladly accept his new title. In an accompanying video posted to YouTube, The Dutch Giant mused that his record-breaking height would actually be a "terrible disadvantage" if he ever wanted to pursue the sport professionally.

Olivier Richters always wanted to be a dad

He may play imposing characters on screen, but Olivier Richters is a gentle giant. On the personal front, he and his girlfriend Desiree Stuijt have been together for over a decade, and in 2024, they announced they were expecting their first child. "We have wanted to have children for years, so we are very happy," Richters enthused to local media, per PZC. He also celebrated the news on Instagram, writing, "Mini Dutch Giant incoming!!" Revealing more about their love story, he wrote, "I met Desiree 10 years ago on Tinder and have been sharing my adventures with her ever since."

Their daughter, Romy Elodie Richters, was born in May 2024 and Richters celebrated on Instagram. "She is super healthy and forever under Dutch Giant protection," he gushed. "The feeling she gives me when she lies on my chest is indescribable." Speaking with local news outlet ANP (via RTL), he offered further insights into his new home life, musing, "She has a mind of her own and clearly indicates what she does and does not want." And yes, she's already promising to be tall. While the average length of a newborn is 19 to 20 inches, Romy was 21.7 inches. "Very pleased that our offspring will also grow to considerable length," joked Richters.