Meet India’s Schwarzenegger
Mr. World 2016
Three Mr. India titles
Word of inspiration
Depression is natural in trying times. Give yourself time. Work on yourself and persevere. You’ll succeed eventually.
The inspiring story of the first and only wheelchair-using bodybuilder of India, Anand Arnold
“Mamma, who is this man?” asks my little one’s chirpy voice, suitably impressed looking at the laptop screen. The picture is that of Anand Arnold, India’s first and only wheelchair-using bodybuilder, working out at a gym. Being a superhero fan, he was predictably awestruck with India’s Arnold. With 44 titles under his belt, including Mr. World 2016 and three Mr. India titles, Arnold has set an exemplary precedent. What makes the feat incredible is the fact that he is cancer surviving, wheelchair-using athlete.
Arnold began bodybuilding at the age of 13. He won the Mr. Golden Ludhiana title in the same year. Starry-eyed, he had envisioned a bright future ahead when tragedy struck. “At 15, I had severe pain in my lower back,” he recalls.“I had suffered from a similar pain back when I was 9 and later, at 14, but its cause could not be detected. This time, an MRI diagnosed it as the last stage of lower spinal cord cancer.”
He was immediately operated upon. The operation left him paralyzed from the neck down, with only a little mobility in the hands. He was bedridden for three years. “My mom and sisters were my constant source of strength,” says Arnold. With regular physiotherapy and constant care from his family, he regained movement in the upper body. “I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to walk,” he says.“Doctors kept telling me that I would recover. Only after consulting a visiting American doctor did I realize that I would never be able to stand on my feet again. It struck me like a heavy blow. I fell into depression.”
During this dark phase, one of his students, Amit Gill, persuaded him to go to the gym. “I felt embarrassed as he had to carry me like a child,” he says.“But when I entered the gym, I felt revitalized. From spending three long years in a room to going back to my gym, it was a transformational experience. I started visiting the gym daily and began to work out on the machines too. I have not stopped since.”
But the course was not an easy one. “It was challenging when I started over,” he says. “I could not stand. Nobody knew the training routine for a person using a wheelchair. I had to work out the training regime and diet plan on my own.”
After working tirelessly to regain his pre-operation body, his upper body was ready but he was still in a wheelchair. “Then my old coach Ravi Parasher introduced me as a wheelchair bodybuilder in Jalandhar,” he says.“I began to compete in the shows again with normal bodybuilders. It took me twice the time to achieve what a normal bodybuilder could do.” The hard work finally paid off when Arnold started winning titles and gained recognition. He has also appeared on the reality TV shows, India’s Got Talent and South India Got Talent, where he impressed the judges with his daredevilry. “I have also acted in a movie named Supreme Khiladi,” he says.
After bagging national and regional titles, Arnold wanted to compete at the international level but could not, due to a lack of funds. Impressed with his performance, Dr. Ashok Bhatia, Chairman of the International Marketing Corporation, chose him as the company’s brand ambassador. “Thanks to Dr. Bhatia, I could prepare adequately and win the gold medal at the Mr. World 2016 in Europe,” says Arnold. He is also the face of the supplements Muscle Mania and HaleLife Nutrition.
Witnessing his enthusiasm and the will to succeed is an inspiration. Soon we will be able to watch a biopic on him in the nearest theatres. He dreams of opening a gym for the disabled, and he intends to train them free of cost.
“It Was Challenging When I Started Over, I Could Not Stand. Nobody Knew The Training Routine For A Person Using A Wheelchair. I Had To Work Out The Training Regime And Diet Plan On My Own.”Anand Arnold,
Winner of Mr World & 3 Mr India titles