Published: Sunday, Jan 29, 2006, 21:50 IST By Joe Williams
MUMBAI: From utensils to cars and cash bonanza, body building in India has indeed come a long way. Former nine-time ‘Mr India’, Prakash Koyande, is happy with the way the sport has grown over the last 20 years. At the same time, he is upset with the way drugs are taking an upper hand in the sport, not just in India, but also the world over.
An employee of MbPT in Mumbai, Prakash believes a sound body makes one a complete human being, and that was the reason why he took up body building. “There was no money during our time. We didn’t get cars and washing machines as prizes, but only some utensils besides, of course, the medals. Today there is so much money involved in the sport,” says Prakash, who didn’t even had a place to stay when he first won the ‘Mr India’ title in 1983.
“Today, thanks to this sport, I own a flat in Andheri. I owe a lot to the sport, but the way the present generation look for medals by taking drugs hurts me,” he adds.
Koyande came to Mumbai in 1972 in search of a job, and took a liking to body building just for kicks. “I didn’t even had money for food. It was Viju Pendkar (in Matunga) who helped me and showed me the right way,” he recalls.
Dada, as he is called by his close friends, says he has never used drugs. “No, that’s the last thing I would do. WhatI am today is all due to my hard work,” he stresses.
“The only thing I feel bad is that drugs have taken full control of the sport today.”
Koyande feels if one wants to curb this “barbaric way” of getting medals, it should begin from within. “The federation and the state association are doing their best. The only way this menace can be curbed is when the Sports Ministry comes hard on this issue. But ultimately, it is upon ourselves to say no to it,” he says.
Koyande won the Mr India title for seven consecutive years, from 1983-89, and after a gap of one year he again was in the limelight, winning the title in 1991 and ‘92. Two years later he gave up the sport, but has been an active member in promoting body building.