A former Mr Universe who has just turned 100 said that happiness and a life without tensions are the key to his longevity.
Manohar Aich, who is 4ft 11in (150cm) tall, overcame many hurdles, including grinding poverty and a stint in prison, to achieve body building glory.
His family gathered yesterday in Kolkata to celebrate his birthday.
Hindu priests chanted prayers while a feast was laid out to honour Aich, winner of the 1952 Mr Universe body building title.
Rippling his muscles, Aich said his ability to take his troubles lightly and remain happy in 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,” he said.
Aich, who was born in 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 and it was there that he began his relentless pursuit of body building.
Some years later, however, he was jailed when he protested against colonial oppression. “It was in the jail that I began weight training seriously,” he said.
India’s independence in 1947 led to Aich’s release. Dogged by poverty, Aich and his wife struggled to put their four children through school. Aich took up odd jobs to indulge his passion.
His 1950 win of a “Mr Hercules” contest spurred him to set his sights on Mr Universe and in London in 1951, he came second. He stayed on in London and claimed the title in 1952.
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