Where Did the World’s Biggest Boy Go?

What happens when a mother hopes her son will be named the world’s heaviest child in the Guinness Book of Records? In the case of Jambik (his Anglicized nickname) the four-year-old achieved this goal in 2003. But a followup article published 10 years later, asking, “Whatever happened to Dzhambulat Khatokhov, the World’s Heaviest Child?” came up empty. Although he would have been 14 at the time, no news of him had been heard for three years.

Jambik was born in 1999 in the rugged Caucasus mountains of Russia to a mother abandoned when she was seven months pregnant, which she attributes to witchcraft that was used to lure her husband away. Nelya Kabardarkova also shared with her compatriots some old-fashioned beliefs about overweight kids:

In this poor and superstitious corner of the world being big is not seen as a problem. Local people do not think he is sick, they spoil him and feed him… Jambik’s size has earned him the nickname Sosruko after an ancient hero from local mythology. Sosruko was a giant, a fierce warrior who protected his people. He embodies qualities people in the Caucasus greatly respect; strength and size.

Jambik was normal weight at birth, but after his first year weighed as much as an average six-year-old, and by age three, his weight matched that of a typical 12-year-old. He started wrestling and lifting weights, and formed the ambition to become a sumo wrestler, a goal that his mother shared and encouraged.

At a very young age, Jambik appeared on television in Russia and Germany, and was even flown to Japan to visit a sumo school and be on TV. At age four, he had been referred to a specialist hospital in Moscow, but somehow his mother ended up taking him to a different hospital, where she was apparently reassured.

Jambik’s notoriety piqued the curiosity of Dr. Campbell, founder of Britain’s National Obesity Forum, and inspired a National Geographic documentary. A film crew recorded the expert’s trip to visit Jambik, who was then seven years old and weighed more than 220 pounds.

Dr. Campbell stayed for a week, part of which he spent observing Jambik in his natural environment with his non-obese mother and two brothers. Supposedly, the boy was consuming only 2,000 calories per day, and the local medical establishment was unable to find anything wrong with him.

Dr. Campbell saw that, unlike many obese children Jambik was not shunned, but admired. In a part of the world with 90% unemployment, celebrity was brought benefits, and Nelya freely admitted that she counted on Jambik to provide for the family’s future. But old records showed ominous warning signs, like four year’s worth of bone-age development within six months. Dr. Campbell began to suspect that at some point, probably before he was three, Jambik had been dosed with anabolic steroids.

Followed by the film crew, Dr. Campbell took Jambik to Moscow for consultation with a pediatric geneticist, who agreed that steroid use was not unheard of among ambitious Russians. Leaving Jambik with Dr. Natalia Belova at a state-of-the-art clinic, Dr. Campbell returned to his job in England. While in Moscow, and against the advice of Dr. Campbell, who was worried about the boy’s heart, Nelya took advantage of the chance to introduce her son to the exclusive sumo club, to seek sponsorship for his future career.

The results from this new testing showed that Jambik’s bone development was now equivalent to that of a 13-year-old, although no evidence could be found of a genetic problem or steroid abuse. Nelya steadfastly denied ever giving her son anything other than cough medicine.

Dr. Campbell returned to Moscow and tried once more to convince Nelya that her son’s condition was dangerously unhealthy, and that training as a sumo wrestler could be fatal, but was unable to make much of an impression. Nelya referred again to the legendary heroes of ancient times who “lived long and healthy lives” and never had to listen to doctors.

When Jambik was nine, a news story reported that he was 5’2” tall and weighed 23 stone (or 322 pounds). He has a Facebook page, supposedly begun by him in 2013, but it contains only one entry, made in that year. Jambik would be 17 now, but the all-seeing Internet appears to know nothing of his fate.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Whatever happened to Dzhambulat, Khatokhov, the World’s Heaviest Child?,” DangerousMinds.net, 09/18/13
Source: “Dzhambulat (Jambik) Khatokhov The World’s Biggest Boy,” MyMultipleSclerosis.co.uk, 07/02/15
Source: “23 stone aged nine,” The Sun.co.uk, 07/19/09
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