There’s a lot more that goes into a sport than sheer determination. Selfless vigour, unaffected will, the ability to stand up again once more after getting beaten down a hundred times, more than the physical strength it is the psychological training that you go through to become the best in the league and establish a legacy and build a name in the field that is ready to regard your presence as temporary as a speck of dust on the railing.
In India, we are well versed with the elite timetables of upcoming cricket championships and football leagues, but how often do we pay heat to the other acclaimed and equally challenging athletic events that despite being underrated, have brought us immense pride and fame as a nation.
Going by the order of recognition, Bodybuilding may be ranked as the eleventh most socially recognised and celebrated sport in India and has received this recognition only a couple of decades back. Now in the spotlight as an internationally recognized sport, bodybuilding has become a booming passion for many Indians. Perfecting their muscular curves and practically carving their bodies with endless days and nights spent performing high-end strengthening exercises is the foundation of this sport.
Often blurred with the likes of weightlifting, bodybuilding is more than the stamina and strength of being able to move mountains or lift a car, as the name suggests, bodybuilding is all about complete devotion and dedication towards sculpting a masterpiece that is your body.
There is no short route of this journey, practice, perform, and learn with every step. Here are a compilation of the top 5 truly inspirational Indian bodybuilders having mastered their name and fame in this sport –
#1 Sangram Chougule
Sangram Chougule, an electrical engineer from Pune is an unchallenged accolade of Mr Universe in the World Bodybuilding Championship held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2012. With his disciplined aesthetics and the vigour to change the perception of this sport, Sangram has backed multiple ranks in the Mr World and Mr Asia categories consecutively between 2011 and 2014.
Born and brought up in Kolhapur, Pune, Sangram Chougule is now the epitome of Indian bodybuilding. The 32-year-old lad has won 6 Mr India titles consecutively from 2011-2015. With a daily diet consisting of 2 pounds of fish, a pound of chicken, and high doses of milk and boiled vegetables, Sangram is known to dedicate a minimum of 3 hours every day in rigorous training to keep in shape, during the tournaments, it goes up to 6 hours. With dedication, undivided attention to the sport, and determination to achieve greater heights, Sangram has become an exemplary name in the sport and is a motivation for upcoming bodybuilders all over the globe.
#2 Murli Kumar
As dedicated a sailor he was in the Indian Navy, at the age of 25 Murli Kumar decided to follow his passion in the unexplored territories of Bodybuilding. For a 25-year-old to start from scratch, quite imaginably, Murli Kumar faced many physiological and psychological challenges from both the internal and external factors, none significant enough to stop him from establishing his name. Now he is a well-deserved owner of the prestigious Mr Olympia title 6 times, Mr India title 9 times in his weight category while bagging the overall title thrice.
A master of making anything impossible with his hard work and undisputed will to achieve what he set out for, Murli Kumar has backed the regard of being one of the truly inspirational bodybuilders that the country’s pride resides in.
#3 Ankur Sharma
The best young talent in the sport of bodybuilding, Ankur Sharma from Delhi has crossed the charts of bringing home pride and prestige by backing Gold in the 2013 WBPF World Championship and being honoured with a bronze medal in the Men’s Bodybuilding under 90kg category at the world-famous Arnold Classic, 2016. Hailed and regarded as a true gem of the country, Ankur started his journey as a young, fresh lad walking in the direction that is extremely challenging and demanding of his own self to achieve the results that he did.
Ankur stands completely against the use of any steroids or artificial supplements and believes in taking the longer but the most effective route of natural transformation and has inspired his young aspirants to do the same.
#4 Wasim Khan
Rewriting history in his own unique style, Wasim Khan from Delhi won the International Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation Event (IBFF) for three consecutive years between 2015, 2016, and 2017 making him the one and only Indian to have backed this honour for the nation even twice in IBFF event, let alone thrice.
This fellow athlete never fails to bring glory and pride once he has set out to achieve what he wants. Wasim has also won the title of Mr Universe in 2014 and without a doubt, he is set out to represent India in various other competitions, with his recent performance in the 2019 Olympia Amateur in Las Vegas where he stood at the fifth position worldwide.
#5 Rajender Mani
A former Indian Air Force officer for 15 years, and a renowned International athlete of India now, Rajendra has come a long way with his journey dedicated to guarding the name of the nation in his endeavors of life. Being a veteran in the field, Rajendra is almost unreal with his list of accomplishments including 14 time Mr. India, 3 times World Champion, and 3 times Asian Champion. In 2019, Rajendra won gold in the World Bodybuilding Championship for the 90 kg category held in Budapest, Hungary.
Without a doubt, Rajendra Mani is referred to as Indian hulk and with his outstanding journey of 45 years, there is no better match for this name but his own.
Inspired is a rather small emotion associated with these men and all the other sportsmen out there who have dedicated their time, soul, and energy into their respective fields. Whatever field you choose and wherever you go, the constant reminder of searching that spark within yourself that’ll outshine all the other endeavours is what is transcripted as we hear and read about these masterpieces our country has birthed.