I saw this picture of Mr. Hazara on Flickr and it reminded me of bodybuilding.
Body-building used to be a big thing amongst young men of a certain age when I was growing up. At least in parts of central Punjab it was. It seemed to be specially big in small and medium-size towns and body-builders were like local celebrities.
At least they thought they were.
That is what I seemed to remember. In college, I remember a number of colleagues who were into bodybuilding ‘big time.’ As a sports reporter at The Muslim I remember many stories and pictures about bodybuilding and bodybuilders. Indeed, this was one sport where ‘local’ (city, district, etc.) tournaments were always a big thing, as were the provincial and national meets. Sometimes one even heard of Pakistani bodybuilders winning big in international competitions.
And traveling through Pakistan – especially small town Pakistan – one regularly found many posters and large billboards (like the one in the second photograph) celebrating bodybuilders and advertising gyms where you too could ‘craft’ and ‘shape’ your muscles.
Gym, by the way, was a place you went to build bodies for spectacular displays and not a place where you went simply to get on a stationary bike to loose a few inches off your waist.
I, unfortunately, was never into any of this. But I did hang out with many wonderful people who were.
Unfortunately, I no longer do. So I am no longer sure what has happened to bodybuilding in Pakistan.
When I was in Pakistan a few weeks ago, and again traveling through small towns in the Punjab, I did see a few signs for bodybuilding gyms. But not as many as I recalled from the ‘old days.’ Maybe its just my memory playing tricks. Or, maybe, Nintendo took the bodybuilders down. I do not know. If you do, let me know please.
Coming back to Boston, I did the one thing I am now good at – I Googled for bodybuilding in Pakistan.
I found at least one site dedicated to bodybuilding in Pakistan. But the pictures on the front page seem not to be of Pakistani bodybuilders. I found (very) short newspaper reports of the Mr. Pakistan bodybuilding contests (here, here, here, etc.). But, then, I also found this news item that seems to be fresh and refreshing.
Pakistan bodybuilder wins five titles in England
A Pakistani bodybuilder has set a new record by winning five titles in England in the competitions organised by the National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NABA). "Top musclemen from Europe and other countries participated in these events held in various parts of England from April 21 to May 13 this year," bodybuilder Masoom Butt told reporters during a press conference here Wednesday.
The titles won by Masoom included Mr International, Pro-Am Oscars, Mr Titan Show, Sci-Mentor Pro-AN Classic and Caledonian Pro Am Classic. "No Pakistani has ever won that number of titles before and it is a great honour for me and my country," he added. Masoom said he won the Mr Asia title at the age of 21 in 1993 in Singapore and in the same year he finished fourth in the World Championship.
He said he gave up bodybuilding in 1995 owing to financial constraints as this sport involved huge finances for diet and preparations. "In 2003 I again started bodybuilding and did training abroad on and off and it was the result of sheer hard work that finally I was able to win a record number of five titles," he said. Masoom said he was now preparing to compete in Mr Universe competition which would be held later this year in England. 34-year-old Masoom said his ultimate dream was to win the title of Mr Olympia in next three to four years’ time.
I should confess, I have no idea who Mr. Masoom Butt is (although the Punjab Police website lists him proudly as someone who has been with the Punjab Police and been a ‘Mr. Asia.’). Nor do I know just how big, or how important this particular competition or these titles are. But the news report seemed interesting. A little more snooping and I actually found a video from the Mr. Titan competition that Mr. Butt has won:
I am not sure how many of our readers are into this sort of thing. Frankly, I am myself am not much into it; but his body sculpturing seems impressive here.
This post started as a nostalgic comment, but thanks to Google I have gotten more interested in this. What are we doing to promote this sport? I think we should. I remember that it was a healthy ‘obsession’ for those who were serious about it. More positive, I think, than many other alternatives available to our young men. And anything that becomes a healthy source of local pride (without become either arrogance or animosity against others) has to be good.
I plan to keep track of Mr. Masoom Butt. If you hear anything, let me know.
P.S. Both pictures from Flickr.com. Please click on pictures to see details.