Original Indian muscleman and 1952 Mr Universe Manohar Aich passed away on Sunday at the grand old age of 104.
“He was on a liquid diet for the last 10-15 days. He succumbed to age-related complications,” said Manoj, Aich’s son, to The Indian Express.
Aich is survived by two sons and two daughters.
Aich, who earned himself the sobriquet “Pocket Hercules” for packing so much muscle into his diminutive 4ft-11in frame began weight training in 1942, finding his stride in prison where he was incarcerated for protesting against British treatment of Indians while in the Royal Air Force.
"The stint in prison helped me prepare for the world championship. There were no equipment but I practised free hand 12 hours a day," Aich reportedly recounted, during a visit to The Times of India some years before his death.
Released from prison when India became independent, Aich continued weight training while working as a coconut vendor at Sealdah station in Kolkata. With funds raised from private bodybuilding shows, Aich made his first attempt at the Mr Universe competition in London in 1951, but failed. However, Aich stayed in London for another year, preparing for and succeeding in the 1952 edition of the competition.
“I had a failed attempt in 1951 but decided to stay back in London, for I was determined to win it next term. Thankfully, I got a job in the British Rail which helped me live my dream. I returned home only after winning the 1952 competition,” Aich had said.
Following his Mr Universe win, Aich continued to perform shows for many decades, giving his last major performance at the age of 89, reported the BBC.
"I have been blessed with this body," Aich reportedly told the BBC in 2012. "What else does one want?"