Physical Culture in India 

Bodybuilding & Amazing Muscle Control

physical culture in indiaThroughout the various ages of India's history there has been a growth of interest in Physical Culture.

As far back as the 1100s there were detailed descriptions of diet, training & lifestyle for the more famous proponents.

Weightlifting was achieved using stone and sacks of sand. Press-ups and squats were common exercises. By the 1500s Bodybuilding had become a national passion. 

One of the most popular forms of weight that was used through the centuries was the Nal, made of rough stone with a hole through the centre and very often with a handle.

It is often considered that the British Rule in India started a period of decline in Physical Culture and general health amongst the Indian population. In 1905 there was a revival of interest, mainly in strand pulling. This was due to a great extent to Sandow's highly successful visit to India in 1904.

Dr. Walter Chit Tun 1898–1947

Dr. Walter Chit TunMuscle Control was introduced to India in the 1920s by Dr. Walter Chit Tun, a Burmese physician who earned his medical degree at the University of Calcutta.  He appeared in public demonstrations of physical development, muscular control, and feats of strength.  He was also one of the first Burmese movie stars of that era. 

Dr. Chit Tun built his physique mainly by the use of a barbell.  Later in 1926 he wrote a popular book entitled "Barbell Exercises" (contributed by Vinaya Kumar). This well illustrated book contains poses of Dr. Chit Tun performing the exercises. 

In his book Chit Tun states, "Rightly handled, the bar-bell is the best possible apparatus, as it can be adjusted to suit any individual, as well as to the strength of the different sets of muscles."


B.C. Ghosh and K.C. Sen Gupta

B.C. Ghosh and K.C. Sen GuptaB.C. Ghosh credits Dr. Walter Chit Tun with inspiring him to take up Muscle Control.   Ghosh and his partner K.C. Sen Gupta opened a Gymnasium in Calcutta in the 1930s.

Together they were credited with the early training of both Monotosh Roy and Monohar Aich, both World Class bodybuilders in the 50s.

Ghosh and Sen Gupta authored a book entitled "Muscle Control & Barbell Exercise" published in Calcutta in 1930. This rare book is well illustrated throughout.  Contributed by Vinaya Kumar.
 
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Professor K.V.Iyer

Professor K.V. IyerDespite the influence of Sandow and others 'Western' style bodybuilding did not take off in a big way until the 1930s. The most important instructor at that time being Prof. K.V. Iyer who founded the Hercules Gymnasium in Bangalore.   He also started India's first Postal Course in Bodybuilding. 

Dr. Iyer was considered to be somewhat of a mystic and was a student of the Vedanta philosophy.  He attempted to blend Yoga, Hindu Mysticism & Western Physical Culture. Apart from his Gym in Bangalore, book and fore- mentioned Postal Courses, he was also a physician to The Maharaja of Mysore.  His books included, Muscle Cult which was published 1930 followed by Perfect Physique published in 1936.  Both books were contributed by Vinaya Kumar.   Dr. Iyer's measurements were: Neck - 17" Chest - 44" Waist - 30" Thighs - 23" Calf - 15.5" Arms - 16.75" Height - 5'7.5" Weight - 160lb   

For more information on Professor Iyer, we invite you to read Gallery of Ironmen - Professor Iyer  by Historian, David Chapman - reproduced from Iron Man Magazine - March 1991 with the Author's permission.

"India has a ancient tradition of strength building. It also has the poverty, ignorance, and poor health that plague most third world nations. In spite of the many problems which beset the subcontinent, there have been many fine Indian strongmen who have brought glory to the land of their birth. One of the best of these was Professor K.V. Iyer." - David Chapman 

Montosh Roy

Montosh RoyMontosh Roy was born 1917 in Gajaria in Dacca,  District of India. He started exercising at age 12 and entered his first competition in 1939.

In 1942 he won the East Indian Bodybuilding Championship and later in 1947 he won the All India Competition. Roy was an early pupil of B.C. Ghosh.

In 1951 he won the Mr. Universe (Class 3-short men division) competition. His height was 5' 5".

Roy later taught at Calcutta University, Law College and played an important role in the development of the IFBB in India and was credited as being the Founder Member.

Roy died at the age of 88 of a cardiac arrest, leaving behind three sons and a daughter.  Mini Photo Album

 

 

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