Ex-Mr Universe going strong at 100

Pocket power

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

Manohar Aich

Manohar Aich, who is 4 foot 11 inches (150 centimetres) tall, overcame many hurdles, including grinding poverty and a stint in prison, to achieve body building glory.

His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered on 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 honour Aich, winner of the 1952 Mr Universe body building title.

Rippling his muscles and flashing a toothless grin, 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.

“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," Aich said, sitting in a room decorated with posters and pictures of his many bodybuilding triumphs.

Aich, who was born in the small town of Comilla district, now in Bangladesh, 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 body building.

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

“It was in the jail that I began weight training seriously. This helped me prepare myself for the world championship,” said Aich.

Over the years, he also earned the more popular title of  “Pocket Hercules.”

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