Manohar Aich is a name not many of us know. His contribution to bodybuilding in India is, however, unchallenged. A three-time Asian Games gold medalist in body building, Manohar was also the second Indian to win the Mr Universe title, the first in independent India. During his days of glory, Manohar was fondly known as ‘Pocket Hercules’, owing to his 4 feet 11 inches height.
Manohar was born in the year 1912, in a small village called Dhamti (now in Bangladesh). According to Indiatimes, he began his bodybuilding career early on when not many gyms and fitness centers were available. He was formally introduced to weight training when he joined the Royal Air Force in 1942. While working at the Royal Air Force, Manohar was jailed for slapping a British officer, when he had said something in favour of the colonial oppression. Even while in jail, Manohar worked out all day, which led to the British officials arranging a special diet for him.
In 1950, at the age of 38, Manohar won the Mr. Hercules contest. In 1951, he stood second in the Mr. Universe contest. In 1952, he won the Mr. Universe title, gaining popularity all across the world. He also won the World Championship of Spring Pulling by tearing a spring of 275 pounds tension. He went on to win three gold medals in the Asian Games held in 1951 (New Delhi), 1954 (Manila), and 1958 (Tokyo). Although he continued doing many bodybuilding shows, he did his last show in the year 2003 when he was 90.
Manohar is currently 103-years-old and lives in Kolkata. He is a happy man and remembers his days of great glory with his toothless smile. “I have no regrets and I remain tension free. My happiest moments have been when I won competitions,” he told The Hindu in a feeble, inaudible voice. Halfway through the interview, he fell asleep. He has two sons and two daughters. One of his sons manages an unconventional akhara and the other son manages a more conventional gym in Kolkata. Manohar goes there regularly and spends time with young bodybuilders.
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