India’s first Mr. Universe, Manohar Aich, breathed his last at the age of 103 in Kolkata residence following age related health issues on Sunday. A three-time Asian Games gold medalist, Manohar Aich was the first Indian to win the Mr Universe title post-independence in 1952. At 4 feet 11 inch, he famously nicknamed ‘Pocket Hercules’. The iconic bodybuilder had also won the World Championship of Spring Pulling by tearing a spring of 275 pounds tension. He began training in 1942 when he had joined the British Royal Air Force.

Manohar Aich son Khokan Aich told PTI, “Aich was on a liquid died for last 10-15 days and had stopped talking. He breathed his last at 3.50pm, Aich is survived by two daughters and two sons, one of whom manages a gym and fitness centre to fulfill his father’s dream of making the youth “healthy and strong. Never quit exercise, he would always say. His mantra to stay healthy was simple – healthy eating and exercise.”

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Former Bengal cricket captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who is Minister of State for Sports, visited Aich’s residence to offer his condolence. Manohar Aich, had become India’s first Mr Universe when he won the 1952 National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association Universe Championships. Born in the district of Comilla (now in Bangladesh), Aich, at just four feet and 11 inches, was not the tallest of men. But encouraged by English officer Reub Martin, Aich took up bodybuilding and made this his passion during his stint at the Royal Air Force under British colonial rulers.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to Twitter to condole the death of Manohar Aich.

A year later, he won the title and that was the last time Manohar Aich worked anywhere for daily wages. For the next 50 years, Aich travelled the world flexing his muscles with a suitcase that had written on one side ‘Manohar Aich, Mr Universe’. For a man who was never appreciated with even an Arjuna Award, Aich took pleasure out of living life big and being a role model to everyone around him. At less than five feet, he had earned the nickname ‘Pocket Hercules’ after winning the Mr Universe title in the group 3 (short) category.

Manohar Aich was the first Indian to win the Mr Universe title post-independence in 1952.

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