Manohar Aich (March 17, 1914 – June 5, 2016) was an Indian bodybuilder. He was born in Tipperah District (now Comilla District in Bangladesh), in a remote village named Dhamti. He was the second Indian to win a Mr Universe title and the first Indian to win the title post-independence. He did so in the 1952 NABBA Universe Championships. Being only 4 feet 11 inches (1.50 m) tall, he was given the name “Pocket Hercules”. His chest measured 54 inches (140 cm) with a waist of 23 inches (58 cm).[not verified in body] He was also nicknamed “Bahubali”.
Since childhood he was interested in strength related sports, such as wrestling and weight-lifting. At the age of 12, due to a sudden attack of black fever, his health broke down. He regained his strength, however, by physical fitness exercises. He started bodybuilding exercises such as doing push-ups, squats, pull-ups, leg raises, and traditional sit-ups. He only did bodyweight/calisthenics exercises with up to 100 reps per set at that age. He attended the Jubilee School in Dhaka. While at school, he used to go to the Ruplal Byayam Samiti for physical exercises. He began to perform in shows titled Physique and Magic along with P. C. Sorcar in Dhanbad. He used to perform feats like bending steel with his teeth, bending spears with his neck, and resting his belly on swords.
Aich joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 where he began his pursuit in bodybuilding. He was introduced to weight training by Reub Martin, a British officer in the RAF. By that time, however, he had built his structure with prolonged hard work and dedication. Due to his physique, he was highly praised by British RAF officials. While part of the RAF, Aich was imprisoned for slapping a British officer in protest at the officer’s remarks in favour of colonial oppression. Aich began his weight training seriously while in jail. He would spend hours in physical exercises. Observing his knack in physical culture, the jail authorities arranged a special diet for him.
In 1950, at the age of 36, Aich won the Mr. Hercules contest. In 1951 he stood second in the Mr. Universe contest. In 1952 he placed first in the Pro-Short division of the NABBA Mr. Universe. He also won the World Championship of Spring Pulling by tearing a spring of 275 pounds tension. In 1955 he stood third in the Mr. Universe contest. In 1960 he stood fourth in the Mr. Universe contest at the age of 46 years. He did many bodybuilding shows from 1960. His last show was performed at 2003 at the age of 89.
He is survived by two sons and two daughters. One of his sons manages an akhara and the other son manages the more conventional fitness holistic health centre at the same location.
On 5 June 2016, Manohar Aich died in Kolkata, aged 102 years.