Three-time reigning Mr India champion as well as the first Indian to win the Mr Asia title, Suhas Khamkar plans to take the world of bodybuilding by storm. He started off as a bicycle repair man, but he has now risen to such a position that he is considering taking up politics and acting in Bollywood.
Coming from a humble background in Kolhapur, Khamkar was spotted by a sponsor who turned his life around, allowing him the opportunity to become India’s most successful bodybuilder.
KL: You came from a sporting family, but how exactly did you come to choose bodybuilding?
SK: My dad was a wrestler and my dad’s dad was also a wrestler, all my family play sport and my big brother is also a bodybuilder, but not a professional. As a boy I was very thin and I was not so much into bodybuilding. I just started going to the gym to build up a bit of body strength and there was this gym competition going on at the time.
The competition was just for guys in the gym so I participated in it and I got third place. About 20-25 days later there was a district-level competition and me and my friend decided to participate and again I got third place. I was very happy and I was impressing people – it inspired me to think that I could do it. I was only 15-years-old. After one year of working out, I just kept on getting bigger and I decided I wanted to go into bodybuilding as a profession.
After placing high in competitions so early in your career, when did you register your first win?
My first win was at 16 in a Mr Kolhapur competition. I took it very seriously and worked very hard and entered all the state competitions and after nine competitions I finally got a first place. I was so passionate about bodybuilding, I had to do it as my profession.
Before this I was working for the railways for seven or eight years as a ticket collector, and I won five gold medals in the All India Railways competition, before winning Mr India and then the Mr Asia title in Bahrain. Then I got third position in Mr World and at Mr Olympia I was a runner up.
How punishing is the daily routine of a bodybuilder?
I start my morning at 4am and do a workout. Then it’s all about diet. I have carbohydrates, then I workout for three or four hours. I eat eggs, protein shakes, fruits, juice. After two hours I have the same, then another two hours I do the same, then I have tanning and I walk for 45 minutes. Then I have two hours’ rest, then a four hour evening workout. All bodybuilders do workout training. Mine is a different workout and that’s why I win.
You’ve already achieved so much in bodybuilding, what are your goals in the sport?
My target is history, my target is big. I want to make history, because I have so much passion for the sport, I want to do it for a long time. In India I have all the records so I have only my records to break.
How much of a local celebrity has bodybuilding made you?
Because of me, most of the bodybuilders stop because they don’t win, they can’t compete. They’re just waiting for me to go so they can jump in. I have a big Facebook and Twitter following, around 5,000, and I get more invites each day.
Wherever I go for a show, the young crowds go really crazy for me. I did one show and the people just wanted to touch me. I ran to my car and the police had to stop the crowd. There are also a lot of fake accounts in my name. The youth follow my style, my hairstyle, clothes…
And beyond bodybuilding, you have some ambitious plans. Is that right?
I am thinking that in the future I would like to do politics. Not a party, I want to do something for society and for sportsmen. It was very hard for me to get to where I am so I want to give something back to society. National politics, not just the local community.
My target is also to be in movies. I am in a film called Whose voice is this? This is my only part so far but I would like to get into Bollywood. I would like to be a main character. In my current movie, it is a guest appearance. I would like to open doors for others.
I came from a very poor background, conditions were very difficult. I have come out of that and I know how hard it is to come out of that. When I get the opportunity to work as a sports minister or whatever, I know where the facilities are lacking. I know what a sportsman needs to succeed, what the laws should be and where the support should be, the sponsorship – I know the grass roots, I know the bottom-line.
There are so many people who come from the countryside with no facilities at all and no education about what to eat and what to do. I know where to go, I can change the laws and bring in a proper system. I would give equal importance to all the sports and look to find the potential in every citizen.
With such importance being placed on having huge muscles, how much of a problem is doping in the world of bodybuilding?
Drug testing is very strict. In India, they have one test but internationally you have tests before and after the competition. It’s very strict, they find out if you have taken supplements, fever tablets. If something goes wrong then that’s your career [gone].
I don’t take anything. The tests are so strict it would be near impossible to get away with it. If they catch you, they ban you for three years.
Has there been one turning point in your career?
I was a bicycle repairman and it was very difficult. The turning point was when I met a person who recognised my talent and sponsored me. That meant I could continue bodybuilding. This was seven years ago, that was when everything changed.
AMW Basketball League chief Will Miabkop is looking to bring together the basketball community of the UAE, with the help of the biggest league in the world.
The third season of the AMW League concluded earlier this week with the American University of Dubai exhibiting some of the best basketball the UAE has to offer, and Miabkop has ambitious goals to ensure that such quailty play doesn’t go unnoticed.
The NBA has aggressively expanded its international market appeal over the last 20 years and Miabkop would like to use the AMW Basketball League as a springboard to bring the greatest players on earth to the UAE, unite the country’s basketball fans and help the game grow across the Middle East.
Miabkop said: “There are three things I would like to do. The first is to have the (international NBA initiative) Basketball Without Borders programme in the Middle East, in Dubai.
“The second would be to organise a big basketball camp with NBA players. I know many of the French players would come over, Nicolas Batum (of Portland Trail Blazers) came here over the summer and Kevin Seraphin (of Washington Wizards) has property here.
“The third step would be to bring the NBA here to the Middle East for a game for the first time, although that wouldn’t realistically happen for three to five years.”
While basketball is actively played across the UAE, particularly in the Filipino community, there is no single event that unites fans in the same way that, for example, the Dubai Sevens does for rugby.
In the short term, Miabkop is hoping to get the AMW Basketball League televised to increase awareness of the league and give basketball a flagship tournament to use as a springboard.
The AMW final on Friday between the American University of Dubai and Fly Society was a game of high quality and intensity but the gravity of the spectacle was diminished slightly by the facilities at Raffles School which could only house around 50 hardcore fans.
“We would like a place we can call home,” added Miabkop, “We use school facilities at the moment because they are the most flexible and we require a lot of flexibility. But we need our own facility and then we can start to develop an academy and train coaches and referees.
“We are in partnership with FIBA and we develop training programmes for referees and coaches. The rugby and football community have major events that bring together the entire community over three days to one place.
“For basketball we don’t have such a thing but we are working on a project where we can bring the entire basketball community in the UAE together, and I would like to get the NBA involved in this project.”
Sneakerheads Niketalk-UAE scaled down Victory Heights 69-66 to register their third straight win in the elimination round of the XBA (Xpat Ballers Association)–BlackBerry Cup at the Salah Al Deen Sports Hall in Al Mamzar on Sunday night.
The sneakers collectors enjoyed a two-point lead, 15-13, at the end of the first quarter which they increased to eight, 37-29, before the half time break.
But their offence turned cold in the third when they were rendered scoreless for more than five minutes by Victory Heights who staged a 11-0 run to take the driver’s seat, 38-37.
Niketalk-UAE slightly recovered the advantage, 46-45, at the end of the third quarter but the trio of Archie Ramos, Lucky Acosta and Jepoy Buado staged a 12-4 rally to give Victory Heights their biggest lead at 7 points, 57-50, with six minutes left on the clock.
Niketalk-UAE got a shot in the arm after their back court generals Raymond Gumila and Raymond Arabe hit back-to-back triples which sparked a 10-2 run, to set the score, 60-59, entering the last two minutes of the game.
Niketalk-UAE played better defence as Gumila made another important jumper and his team mate CB Lim hit a security basket in the dying seconds of the game to nail their third straight win.
“I have to give credit to Gumila and Arabe for hitting those back-to-back triples,” Niketalk-UAE coach Fred Maglaque told Sport360.
“They brought us back to the game and everyone carried the momentum till the last second.”
Jan Bautista top-scored for Niketalk-UAE with 23 points while Gumila and Arabe added 16 and 8 respectively.
In other matches, Capital Engineering built an early lead to topple Dubai Metro 79-69; FaceNBook Boosters blunt Indus Blades 104-98; and APPL escaped Pack2Go Packers 79-77.
Niketalk-UAE 69 – Jan Bautista 23; Raymond Gumila 16; Raymond Arabe 8; Carlos Perico 7; Eugene Reyno 4; Gian Evangelista 4; Ivan Laluces 3; Robbie de Castro 2; Voltaire Peralta 2
Victory Heights 66 – Archie Ramos 16; Lucky Acosta 15; Jepoy Buado 15; Victor Dael 7; Domingo delos Reyes 6; Roger Sorromero 5; Richard Villegas 2