It is definitely a sad period for the sports world that suffered back-to-back losses in the past few days.
Within two days after three-time heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali breathed his last on June 3, noted bodybuilder and the first Indian to win Mr. Universe post-Independence, Manohar Aich, passed away at his Dum Dum residence near Baguiati on the fringes of Kolkata around 2.30 pm on Sunday (June 5).
He was 104 and succumbed to age-related complications, said his family.
Aich, who had lost his wife Jyuthika in early 2002, is survived by their two sons and two daughters.
Here are 11 interesting facts about Aich:
1. He was nicknamed “Pocket Hercules” since he was only4 feet 11 inches (1.50 m) tall. Yet, he had a 54 inches (140 cm) chest and 23 inches (58 cm) waist.
2. Aich participated in Mr. Universe contest for the first time in 1951. He stood second. The failed attempt made him more adamant.
He refused to leave London and took a job in the British Rail.
His hard work and dedication paid off the next year, ie, in 1952, when he again took part in National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association (NABBA) Universe Championships. He was successful in his second attempt and won the Mr. Universe title.
3. He again participated in the Mr. Universe contest in 1955 where he stood third. He again attempted for the title at the age of 46 in the year 1960. That year, he was ranked fourth.
4. Aich’s last show as a bodybuilder was at the age of 89 in 2003.
5. While working for the Royal Air Force in 1942, he was encouraged by British officer Reub Martin to take up bodybuilding seriously.
However, it was when he was jailed for allegedly slapping a British officer that Aich started spending hours working out. Seeing his dedication and intense exercises, jail authorities even arranged a special diet for him.
6. Before he became a world acclaimed name, Aich used to sell green coconuts at Sealdah station in Kolkata.
7. He used to follow a simple diet. In an interview to Bodybuilding India on his 100th birthday, Aich had said a balanced diet of milk, fruits and vegetables along with rice, lentils and fish kept him healthy.
8. Born on Mar 17, 1912 in a remote village called Dhamti at Comilla district in Bangladesh, by the time he turned six, Aich got a knack to exercise after watching palanquin bearers wrestle and stick-fight every morning to stay fit. He especially loved doing push-ups.
9. Aich even worked in circuses. He worked with the International Circus for sometime before starting his own circus company. But the endeavour failed and a bankrupt Aich had to work for almost three years in Oriental Circus to repay his loans.
10. Such was his passion for exercise that he used to work-out till 2011 when he suffered a minor stroke.
11. Aich had a stint in politics when he contested the Lok Sabha polls on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from Dum Dum constituency. He ended up at the third place with 1.63 lakh votes.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.