'Indian Monster' going strong

'Indian Monster' going strong

Known as ‘Indian Monster’ in bodybuilding circles, Mr Universe 2019 Chitharesh Natesan is actually Mr Determination.

Chitharesh Natesan

No one knew Chitharesh Natesan until ‘Cricket God’ Sachin Tendulkar tweeted about his historic win in South Korea. The 33-year-old Keralite from Kochi had put his hometown on the global map by becoming Mr Universe 2019. Chitharesh is the first-ever Indian to have won the title of Mr Universe in the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship by defeating participants from 38 countries and emerging as the Champion of Champions — again a first for India.

“A week before that, I had won the Asian championships and become the Champion of Champions there too, but nobody knew about any of it until Sachin Tendulkar tweeted about it,” says Chitharesh, excitement booming in his voice. His path to glory has been full of twists and turns. Hailing from the tiny hamlet of Vaduthala in Kochi, he is known by the nickname ‘Indian Monster’ in bodybuilding circles, but after a chat with Chitharesh, one would consider calling him ‘Mr Determination’. Numerous injuries, multiple breaks and missed championships didn’t affect his morale, but made him more focused. Now, on a strict high-protein diet for over a year and hour-long workouts every single day, he believes he has more to do and a long way to go.

First love

Chitharesh was not a wannabe bodybuilder. That was something that struck him at a later stage in life. His first love was hockey. “I started off as a hockey player since school days and went on to become a state-level player during graduation. Being a hockey player, I had to maintain my body weight and there was no chance of body building,” he recalls. He opted for his second graduation course at Lakshmibhai National College of Physical Education in Thiruvananthapuram, where he chose hockey as his specialisation.

After graduating, he moved to Delhi and started working with his friends’ fitness group there as a trainer. “There was very little scope for hockey in Delhi and I started weight training under the guidance of Sagar, my friend and coach,” adds Chitharesh, who considered contesting championships.

“In 2010, I participated in Mr Ernakulam championship, but soon, I met with an accident and contracted a foot infection that required two months’ bed rest. After preparations and training, I decided to compete in 2013, but a shoulder injury again, pulled me down. I stayed off for a year,” he says. But the resting period proved to be a blessing in disguise. While recuperating, he took Latin dance classes where he met Nasiba, an Uzbek native. Soon, the two fell in love and got married. Now settled in Delhi, the couple flies down to Kerala once in a while.

Bouncing back

However, post injuries, Chitharesh bounced back and went on to become Mr India three consecutive years from 2016. The year also saw him emerging as Mr India-Dubai. In 2017, he became Mr Delhi and the Champion of Champions in the contest. A year later, Chitharesh won Mr World title in the Europe-based IBFF championship and literally found himself on top of the world. Then came the twist of fate. “I was hoping to earn a job with my win, but only then did I come to know that the federations I had been representing lacked recognition.”

He then joined Mumbai-based IBBF, where he was selected for Mr Asia championships. Chitharesh came home to meet his parents before the championships when hurdles, this time, came in the form of Kerala floods. With air traffic hit and life coming to a standstill, he rushed to rescue and relief operations though it took a toll on his diet and training. But he doesn’t brood over it. “When everyone around was affected, there was nothing to do. I and my friends were at the rehabilitation camps, coordinating rescue operations and helping people. There was no point in attending championships when you are not ready.”

Once on training mode, nothing would deter Chitharesh. No cheating, no breaks, not one day of eating out or hanging out. “In bodybuilding, focus and discipline are very important. So is money,” he smiles, explaining his daily diet of 300 gm protein, 200 gm carbohydrate and 100 gm fat, which translates into 40 eggs and 1 kg chicken every day (6-7 meals a day)! “You have no idea how financially draining bodybuilding is,” he adds.

“Participation in a championship means months of hard work and continuous training without any distraction. The more effort you put in the sweeter will be the success. And remember, there are no shortcuts, nothing at all,” he concludes.


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