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‘Bodybuilders are often mistaken for bouncers’

Mohammad Ashraf found his true calling when he met a local bodybuilder,whose name he doesn’t remember,but someone who had won the Mr Delhi title in 1998.

Written by Nitin Sharma | New Delhi | April 22, 2010 1:12:11 am

Mohammad Ashraf found his true calling when he met a local bodybuilder,whose name he doesn’t remember,but someone who had won the Mr Delhi title in 1998. As Ashraf returned to Delhi on Tuesday after winning silver at the Fifth National Bodybuilding Championship held at Goa from April 9 to April 11,the 27-year-old went straight to the gym at Ajmeri Gate.

But nothing much has changed since the day he had met his first ‘guru’. Just like in the old days,the professionals are still mistaken for bouncers,and the troubles of making a career in the sport are very well documented. “Often people associate the image of a bodybuilder with that of a bouncer. We want to change this. There is a need to have more local tournaments. We often travel on our own and most of our earnings are spent on dietary supplements. We only get some support at college or university level,but nothing after that,” said Ashraf,who trains under Amarjit Malik.

The 27-year-old though still hopes for a better future. “It was my first gold medal in the Senior National Championship. We have been working tow this for the last six months and it feels good to win the medal,” he told Sportline on Wednesday.

As a youngster,Ashraf would often go to the nearby akhara at Ajmeri Gate to watch wrestlers in action. And coming from a family of wrestlers,Ashraf wasn’t sure he wanted to follow the same path.

“My family always wanted me to become a wrestler but then I decided to become a bodybuilder. Once I took the decision,they backed me. I am now aiming for the Asian Bodybuilding Championship to be held in Singapore in October this year,” said Ashraf.

Ashraf won his first major title in 2002,when he took the Mr Delhi crown in 2002. He then went on to win the North India title in Kota,Rajasthan,the same year and was selected for the World Junior Bodybuilding Championship to be held in Brazil. But he was forced to miss the tournament due to problems with his visa.

“Mr Delhi was my first major title and it boosted my confidence ahead of the North India Championship in Kota that year. I won in Kota and was selected for the World Junior Championship in Brazil. But visa problems meant I could not go with the team. I have been participating in inter-university championships after that and it has helped me a lot in terms of confidence.”

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