Manohar Aich, the 1952 Mr. Universe international bodybuilding champ, celebrated his 100th birthday with his children, grandchildren and great-great children in Kolkata, India on Sunday.
While his whole family gathered around to celebrate his birthday, Hindu priests honored him by chanting prayers, as a grand feast was laid out.
Standing only at 4 foot 11 inches, Aich is known as Pocket Hercules. Aich credited his longevity by living a healthy life, not drinking or smoking and not taking life seriously.
I never allow any sort of tension to grip me, said Aich, reported the Daily Mail. I had to struggle to earn money since my young days, but whatever the situation, I remained happy,
Aich was born in Comilla, a small town in Bengal. After watching a group of wrestlers, he initially became interested in exercise and building his muscles.
After leaving school in 1942, he joined the Royal Air Force as part of India's British colonial force, where he began his pursuit in body building, reported the Daily Mail. A British officer named Reub Martin introduced him to weight training, through which Aich garnered praise from his fellow soldiers for developing an impeccable physique.
Several years later, he was imprisoned for protesting colonial oppression.
It was in that jail that I began weight training seriously, said Aich, according Daily Mail. This helped me prepare myself for the world championship.
He said while in jail, he was would train often, sometimes for 12 hours in a day and without any equipment.
Prison authorities were impressed with Aich's perseverance and were allowed to eat a special diet designed to build his stamina. He was released from prison in 1947 when India was declared independent from British rule.
Aich later married. However, he was very poor. He and his wife struggled daily to provide for their four children. Aich took several jobs in order to support his family.
I didn't become rich. There is not much money in bodybuilding, he says, according to the Indian Express. But there is respect. And for that, I wouldn't mind being a bodybuilder in my next life as well.
In 1950, Aich won the Mr. Hercules contests. This motivated him to compete in Mr. Universe and a year later, in London, he earned second place in the contest.
Aich decided to stay in London and prepare for the next Mr. Universe contest. In 1952, he brought home the gold.
Pocket Hercules won several more awards for his body building and physique throughout the years.
A small stroke last year inhibited his ability to work out, but he still heads to the gym to mentor younger body builders in training, while helping his sons run a fitness center. But Aich says the new generation is far different than his.
These youngsters want the easy way out these days, Aich said according to the Indian Express. They don't have the time and energy to go through the drills in an old-style gymnasium.
While he has lived a full life, Aich said he has one regret. He wishes he had the chance to meet the most famous Mr. Universe winner, Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, he has watched several of his action films.
I like the incredible stunts he does in the movies.
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