Powerlifting prof aims for big league

Aurangzeb Khurram Hafiz juggles his powerlifting ambitions with his duties as a teacher.

The 39-year-old, who monitors three research scholars and teaches quantum optics to postgraduate students at Jamia Millia Islamia, has won powerlifting gold in the 120 kg unequipped category at the national championship held in Goa last month. Hafiz claims he is not far from claiming a top spot in the international championships.

“Most of the international champions are in their forties,” he said, while adding that he is trying to raise his bar. “The only problem is that after getting an injury, it takes time to recover.”

The Physics teacher donned the professional suit soon after taking up the university job. “I have been actively participating in powerlifting championships since 2007. But due to academic workload I participate in no more than two events in a year,” he said. 

Hafiz has found support from the teaching circle at Jamia. “My colleagues understand that I can’t take morning classes because of my workout session. I tell them, ‘Give me as many classes you want me to teach. But keep it between 11 am-4 pm,” he said.

The professor doesn’t train in the university gymnasium, which was upgraded during the Commonwealth Games in 2010, since his gruelling regime requires more weight plates than available. “If I start training there, others will have to nothing to exercise with,” Hafiz said. 

He added that students take interest in listening to his exploits.

Hafiz trains himself at the Netaji Gym in South Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar, which boasts being a nursery for producing powerlifting champions. His coach Puran Singh Kadyan, a former powerlifting champion himself, says the 50 years old gym has produced nearly 40 medallists.

“He (Hafiz) can do very well if he stops applying his mind,” Kadyan said, reacting to his prospects in international events.

“He wears his suit too tight. It takes him an hour to change the clothes.”Hafiz gave the world championship at Los Vegas a miss because the trails competitions were held in the month of Ramadan. But he says, he will be training hard to compete in the world powerlifting championship to be held in Jamshedpur in December 2014.

His coach says he can lift a staggering weight of over 320 kg with supportive equipment, not very far from top performers internationally.

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