For­mer Mr. Uni­verse marks his 100th birth­day

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY MANIK BAN­ER­JEE

KOLKATA | A for­mer Mr. Uni­verse who has just turned 100 said Sun­day that hap­pi­ness and a life with­out ten­sions are the key to his longevity.

Manohar Aich, who is 4 feet 11 inches tall, over­came many hur­dles, in­clud­ing grind­ing poverty and a stint in prison, to achieve body­build­ing glory.

His chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren gath­ered Sun­day in the east­ern city of Kolkata to cel­e­brate his birth­day the day be­fore.

Hindu priests chanted pray­ers while a feast was laid out to honor Mr. Aich, win­ner of the 1952 Mr. Uni­verse body­build­ing ti­tle.

Rip­pling his mus­cles and flash­ing a tooth­less grin, Mr. Aich says his abil­ity to take his trou­bles lightly and re­main happy dur­ing dif­fi­cult times are the se­crets to his long life.

That, and a sim­ple diet of milk, fruits and veg­eta­bles along with rice, lentils and fish have kept him healthy.

He does not smoke and has never touched al­co­hol, he said.

“I never al­low any sort of ten­sion to grip me. I had to strug­gle to earn money since my young days, but what­ever the sit­u­a­tion, I re­mained happy,” Mr. Aich said, sit­ting in a room dec­o­rated with posters and pic­tures of his many body­build­ing tri­umphs.

Mr. Aich, who was born in the small town of Comilla in Ben­gal, was a puny young­ster. But he was at­tracted to ex­er­cis­ing and build­ing his mus­cles when, as a school­boy, he saw a group of wrestlers in ac­tion.

In 1942, he joined the Royal Air Force un­der In­dia’s Bri­tish colo­nial rulers, and it was there that he be­gan his re­lent­less pur­suit of body­build­ing.

En­cour­aged by a Bri­tish of­fi­cer named Reub Martin, who in­tro­duced him to weight train­ing, Mr. Aich earned praise for his physique from his peers in the air force.

Some years later, how­ever, he was thrown into prison when he protested against colo­nial op­pres­sion.

In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence in 1947 led to Mr. Aich’s re­lease from jail. Dogged by poverty, Mr. Aich and his wife strug­gled to put their four chil­dren through school. There was lit­tle cash to in­dulge his pas­sion for body­build­ing, but Mr. Aich took up odd jobs to earn a lit­tle on the side.

His 1950 win of a “Mr. Her­cules” con­test spurred him to set his sights on the Mr. Uni­verse tour­na­ment in London.

In 1951, Mr. Aich came sec­ond in the con­test and stayed on in London to pre­pare for an­other shot at the ti­tle. He re­turned to In­dia af­ter win­ning the ti­tle in 1952.


Manohar Aich flexes his mus­cles Fri­day in a gym­na­sium in Kolkata. Mr. Aich won the Mr. Uni­verse ti­tle in London in 1952. Hap­pi­ness and a life with­out ten­sions are the key to his longevity, said Mr. Aich, who turned 100 on Satur­day.

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