When Matthias Schlitte was 16 years old, the German attended a local arm wrestling tournament at the suggestion of his mom. When he arrived, he got plenty of looks and laughs; after all, at 140 pounds, Schlitte was much smaller than his fellow competitors.
Then the arm wrestling started. And the laughing stopped.
You see, Schlitte was born with a rare genetic defect that makes his right forearm bone 33 percent larger than his left. This left him with an enormous limb that looks strikingly like Popeye's -- and gave Schlitte an instant advantage in the sport he suddenly found himself loving.
Now Schlitte, 27 years old and a decade into his professional arm wrestling career, is a German and international champion many times over. The good-humored man they call "Hellboy" is also a commercial star and a media wonder, even appearing on an episode of the Discovery Channel's "Is It Possible?" several years ago:
Schlitte is the youngest winner of the German "Over the Top" tournament, and last year was vice champion of the Nemiroff World Cup in Warsaw, Poland. Not bad for a guy who got mocked the first time he tried the sport.
"Everyone has a challenge in life," Schlitte told Australia's Yahoo7 Sport. "I'm not a religious guy or anything but this was a gift from a higher power and this was my calling in life."