Manohar Aich, former Mr Universe, the man known as Pocket Hercules

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Former Mr Universe and celebrated body-builder Manohar Aich won the Mr Universe title in 1952, and was given the name “Pocket Hercules” due to his four feet, 11 inch frame.
In 1950, at the age of 36, Aich won the Mr Hercules contest.

In 1951 he had finished second in the Mr Universe contest and he stayed back in London to have another go in the Pro-Short division of the Mr Universe contest, eventually winning it a year later.
Born in Comilla district, now in Bangladesh, Aich joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1942 -- when India was still a British colony -- and took up bodybuilding, encouraged by British officer Reub Martin.

And Aich kept his daily exercising routine till sometime back.
“If you exercise daily you won’t fall ill. When you are young, you train to build but when you are old you train to maintain,” he said in an interview to a fitness portal years back.
In 1991, he contested Lok Sabha elections as a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and finished third, collecting over 1.63 lakh votes.

His approach to life was simple and he believed in speaking the truth always.
“He always told us to be honest and to speak the truth,” Aich’s daughter Bani Banerjee had said in an interview sometime back.
Aich stayed back in London to practice and train after coming up second best in 1951. Living in such a city was costly and so he had to work as a bus conductor.

“He had once told me, ‘I had to work as a bus conductor in London to live there and train’, and he was so determined he won it next year,” Ashim Mallik, a former body-builder who had seen Aich from close quarters, told IANS.