India’s first Mr Universe dies at the age of 104

Image courtesy: Twitter

India’s first Mr Universe Manohar Aich died at his residence in Baguiati, Kolkata, on Sunday. He was 104.

“Aich was on a liquid diet for last 10-15 days and had stopped talking. He breathed his last at 3.50 pm,” Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted his son Khokan Aich .

Aich is survived by two daughters and two sons, one of whom manages a gym and fitness centre. He wishes to fulfill his father’s dream of making the youth “healthy and strong”.

Image courtesy: Scoopwhoop
Image courtesy: Scoopwhoop

Aich, who reportedly turned 104 on 17 March, had become India’s first Mr Universe after he won the 1952 National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association Universe Championships.

Though he was the shortest among the contenders, he was encouraged by a British officer Reub Martin to take up bodybuilding. He turned it into his passion during his stint with the Royal Air Force under the British colonial rulers.

Aich had also served jail term under the British colonialists after he protested against British oppression—this phase is believed to be a turning point in his life.

Image courtesy: Scoopwhoop
Image courtesy: Scoopwhoop

After independence, Aich was released from jail and despite penury he continued to indulge in his passion for bodybuilding by taking up odd jobs.

Aich won Mr Hercules title in 1950 and was referred to as ‘Hercules of India’ and ‘Pocket Hercules’ thanks to his pint-size.

In 1951, he attempted the Mr Universe title in London only to finish runner-up. But a determined Aich returned to India only after he won the coveted title in 1952. Later, he even won the gold medal in Asian Bodybuilding Championships.

According to Aich, the secret to his longevity was his abstinence from smoking and drinking.

Even though his sons did not want to pursue a career in bodybuilding, they helped Aich realize his dream of producing bodybuilding champs—India’s eight-time national champion Satya Paul and Premchand Dogra who won the Mr Universe title in 1988.

Image courtesy: Scoopwhoop
Image courtesy: Scoopwhoop

Unfortunately, Aich departed without having fulfilled his dream of meeting his contemporary and fellow Mr Universe winner Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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