The Legend - Manohar Aich: India’s Strongest Pocket Hercules!

This article is a part of legendary inspirational series by Body and Strength because real people make real stories and these stories inspire beyond measure. Starting with Manohar Aich (4 feet, 11 inches) - the second Indian Mr Universe. Read how he didn’t let British rule crumble his spirit!

Manohar Aich was born on 17 March 1912 in Bengal (British India). He is known as father of Indian Bodybuilding. He has been through grueling test of time and ruled the roost for more than a century. At a height of 4 feet 11 inches, he made an applauding physique with rippling muscles and that too without supplements and steroids.

Manohar Aich had worked in the Royal Air Force and began his weight training in 1942, coincidentally the year when Mohammad Ali was born. Reub Martin, a British officer in RAF introduced Aich to weight training when he was 30. Aich pumped iron without the rampant use of supplements and steroids, which most of the bodybuilders do today. He soon carved a physique which everyone around was envious of. He earned the title of Moniker Pocket Hercules. It was not that he always wanted to do that but when he was in jail, he had been incarcerated for protesting against British oppression of Indians that he decided to build up his strength multifold and got serious regarding weight training.

He was in prison when he started preparing for the world championship. There were no equipment, no weights and he practiced free hand 12 hours a day! Mr Universe Championship was organized by National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA) first in 1948. Within a few years of its inception, no one knows how Aich managed to participate but he took everyone, including himself, by surprise when he won amateur prize in 1952. Aich fought off tremendous odds including bodybuilders who literally towered over him to lift the Mr Universe crown under the amateur category. To add your factfile, 5 years later, an unknown Austrian called Arnold Schwarzenegger won the same title!

Aich did all this with a simple philosophy of ‘mind over body’ A simple diet complemented an uncomplicated life. He used to take all the hurdles including the one of making both the ends meet, in his stride. This attitude made him an invincible warrior as far as his life goals were concerned. He once stated that since his childhood days, he had to struggle to earn, nevertheless, it was his ability to be happy in all circumstances that made him go so far. The credit for his longevity goes to his simple diet again because he always used to state. “Uno Bhate Duno Bal, Bahu Bhate Rasatal” – Small amount of rice doubles up your power whereas full portion of rice can bring doom. He gave leverage to restraint his life.

Aich used to have a diet of milk, fruits, vegetables, rice, lentils and fish. He was known to neither have resorted to smoking nor had he ever touched alcohol. He was always interested in strength related sports like wrestling and weightlifting from a very young age. He encountered a fatal Kala-azar (Leishmaniasis) when he was barely 12 and suffered ill-health for a long time. Slowly but steadily, he regained his lost strength by exercising regularly doing push-ups, pull ups, leg raises and traditional sit ups. Later, for competing he used to only bodyweight or calesthenics exercises with up to 100 reps per set! At the time of winning Mr Universe, his chest measured 54 inches with waist 23 inches. His last bodybuilding show was in 2013.

Manohar Aich passed away on June 5, 2016, after flexing his muscles for 7 decades! Aich was hitting the gym even at 104 years of age! He suffered a heart stroke in 2011 and even remained bed-ridden for a year in between but his faculties were razor sharp. He continued to visit the gym he had built in his house and keep a close eye on the young bodybuilders who were training there. Aich is survived by his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. This bodybuilding legend has given a direction and purpose to the sport of bodybuilding. Looking back at our strong basics, gives us inspiring stories like his. Going by his mantra ‘mind over body’, ‘simple life and diet’ and always ‘be happy’ can make you more focused when you make yourself ‘judgement proof’.  

About The Author

Honey Grover

From passion for fitness to profession in fitness as certified coach, nutritionist and athlete till 2018, Honey Grover is now a founder of Read More..

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