India’s first Mr Universe Manohar Aich, fondly known as ‘Pocket Hercules,’ passed away on June 5 after being unwell for the past few weeks.
Aich, who was 104-years old, was suffering from age related complications and had been on a liquid diet for the past 15 days.
A bodybuilder by profession, he had won India its first prestigious Mr Universe title back in 1952.
A resident of Kolkata, Aich was at his residence in Dum Dum when he breathed his last.
He is now survived by his two daughters and two sons, one of whom manages a gym and fitness centre to fulfill his father’s dream.
Despite reaching such an old age, his son says that his father never quit exercising and had always dreamt of making the youth “healthy and strong.”
It was due to his dream that his son Kohkon Aich opened a fitness centre.
Kohkan said his father would always say that it was simple to stay healthy by eating “healthy and exercise regularly.”
Just 4 feet 11 inches tall, Aich was not the tallest man around but that didn’t stop him from perusing his passion in body building.
Known as India’s pocket Hercules, he was encouraged to take up body building by an English officer Reub Martin which later turned into passion during his stint at the Royal Air Force under British colonial rulers.
Aich’s first moment of reckoning had come in 1950 when he won the Mr Hercules title, which also gave him the name ‘Hercules of India’ turning to ‘Pocket Hercules’ for his pint-size.
The following year, he had for the first time attempted the Mr Universe title in London only to finish a runner-up. Determined to win, he clinched the coveted title in 1952, and thereafter it was no stopping him. He later went on to win gold medals in Asian Body Building championships. His sons, though not body builders, helped him in pursuing his dream of producing champion bodybuilders.
Over the years, they have given India many known body builders like Satya Paul (national championship 8 times) and Premchand Dogra (who won Mr Universe title in 1988).
Over the years he had only one wish, to meet his Mr Universe counterpart Arnold Schwarzenegger, but unfortunately that wish till his death had remained unfulfilled.