One of the things we like to do at the Mutiny is bring to light “a different kind of Desi” from time to time. Sure, we know all about desi docs, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and the like. But how about world famous body builders and wrestlers?
The interesting tale of the only Desi Mr Olympia, Manohar Aich is a fascinating refutation of the received wisdom of so many school playgrounds across the US. Yes Virginia, there are some Bad Desi Dudes out there.
Wikipedia gives his tale rather cursory treatment –
Manohar Aich, (born 1912) is an Indian bodybuilder. He won the 1952 Mr Universe championship. He is also three-time Asian Games gold medalist in body building. Being only 5′ tall, he was given the name “Pocket Hercules”. He currently lives near Kolkata and has retained an excellent physique even at the age of 93 years.His chest measured 54 inches with a waist of 23 inches giving him the best v-cut.
For me, it’s the then and now picts that really stand out –
A Manohoar fanpage / picture gallery can be found here.
A few excerpts from a 2001 interview are just flat out fun reading –
“Without regular training”, he told me simply, “I don’t see how one can exist as a human being.” Today, he still works out at least three days a week, at his gymnasium Studio de Physique in Calcutta, where a small group of dedicated athletes undergo training under his supervision.
…the most frequently asked question was about muscle control: “Please teach us to do muscle control”, the body-builders pleaded. Monohar looked at them gravely, but I detected a twinkle in his eyes.
“Before doing muscle-control”, he said gently, “it helps if you have some musclesâ€¦.”
Manohar, of course, ain’t the only Desi strong man out there. Previous SM coverage was bestowed upon WWE contender Dalip Singh (here, here, here, and here). Unlike Manohar’s 5′, Singh towers at over 7 feet tall.
And, Dalip Singh’s success inspires a new generation of wrestlers chronicled in a weirdly fascinating video on livemint –
Wrestlers in India, in spite of struggling to make a living, not earning enough to sustain their special diets, and retaining their edge as they compete in national and international wrestling events, are still hopeful of restoring it to its former glory.
…Most wrestlers have small ambitions hoping to make a living out of government jobs while they wrestle on the side. However, considering their meagre pay, with cost of special diets reaching nearly Rs15,000 a month, they resort to training children in their villages to make an extra buck.