Manohar Aich

Manohar Aich: 102-Year-Old Bodybuilder, Former Mr. Universe, Dies

Manohar Aich, a 102-year-old Indian body builder, famous for being the first Indian to win the Mr. Universe title has died. Mr. Aich passed away earlier today at his home in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata (earlier known as Calcutta), SportsKeeda reports. Mr. Aich was popularly known as the “Pocket Hercules” owing to his short stature. He was only four-feet, 11-inches tall. Apart from his short stature, there are many remarkable things that helped Mr. Aich stand out from his peers. Most famously, he was known to pursue his love for bodybuilding well into his late 90s. Several videos and images that show the elderly Manohar Aich still pursuing his passion have inspired many budding bodybuilders across the world.

Manohar Aich was born on March 17, 1914, in the Bengal province of undivided, British-ruled India. Since childhood, Manohar fostered a desire to make it big in the field of strength-related sports like wrestling and bodybuilding. However, at the age of 12, he was diagnosed with black fever, owing to which his health deteriorated. He was however, able to overcome the disease and started physical fitness exercises which he continued for the next eight decades. Aich was enrolled at the Jubilee School in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh), where he also joined a local gym to pursue his hobby. While Mr. Aich had global ambitions to pursue his passion, he was not able to participate in major competitions till he was in his 30s.

In 1942, at the age of 28, he joined the Royal Air Force where he met Reub Martin, a British officer in the RAF who introduced him to advanced weight training after being impressed by Manohar’s physique. He did, however, have some issues with other RAF officials. Once, Mr. Aich was even imprisoned for slapping a British officer who had uttered something in favor of Britain’s occupation of India. Even after being sent to jail, Manohar Aich continued to train. The jail authorities helped him with a special diet so that he could continue his passion for bodybuilding.

His relentless passion eventually gave him the opportunity to participate in the Mr. Hercules contest in 1950. Mr. Aich was 36-years-old and defeated many younger participants to win the title. In 1951, he entered the Mr. Universe contest and managed to come second. He tried again the very next year and managed to finish first in the Pro-Short division of the NABBA Mr. Universe — making him the very first Indian to do so. In the same year, he also won the World Championship of Spring Pulling by tearing a spring of 275-pounds tension. Manohar’s dream run continued well into 1955 when he was placed third in the Mr. Universe contest. His last appearance in the contest was in 1960, at the age of 46 where he still managed to grab the fourth position, despite his age.

While most athletes would hang their boots and retire by the time they are in their mid 40s, Manohar Aich had no such plans. He continued to participate in bodybuilding shows across India and occasionally, the globe and continued with his passion. The last time, Mr. Aich was seen at a pro bodybuilding event was in 2003. He was 89-year-old. Even after he stopped appearing at events, his love for bodybuilding was so intense, he continued training well into his 90s. We have embedded an interview of Mr. Aich taken a decade ago, in 2006 when he was 91-years-old.

In several interviews, Manohar Aich was asked the secret of his longevity and good health to which he replied that he has never used alcohol or cigarettes. His diet almost always consisted of fruits, milk, vegetables, rice, and fish. A man that most bodybuilders in India look up to, Manohar Aich will be terribly missed and will continue to inspire young minds who wish to take up bodybuilding as a career.

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