When people see the six packs abs of Shahrukh and Aamir Khan all are fascinated towards it and even a few try to get similar abs. But to get those abs and muscles is not anyone game and for professional bodybuilders to maintain a good physique is utmost important.
Meet Sunil N Aptekar who is now working with the Indian Railways, who in a span of 18 years of his active bodybuilding career participated in more than 150 competitions and won almost all.
Sunil was Mr.India on THREE occasions, the only one from Karnataka. He was also Mr.Asia and has received Karnataka’s prestigious EKALAVYA AWARD amongst many other glittering trophies and medals to his name.
People close to Sunil and his family as well would not have ever thought that Sunil would be a bodybuilder. Sunil until the age of 17 was very weak and sleek, Even then he decided to go in for the Indian Air force selection and as he was a son of a serviceman he had some concessions in the physical attributes, but even with those concessions he was not able to make it to the IAF as his chest was not upto the standards. Sunil was so disgusted with himself and to top it his father for the first time yelled on him. This was the day that changed his life entirely.
The very next day he went to the Corporation Gymnasium near Shivaji Garden and started his training without knowing that one day he would be Mr.Asia. Zeal, determination to overcome that humiliation he had got in the IAF selection made him work hard day after day.
He was born in Udhampur (J&K) and his father was in the Army and he did his schooling from Benyon Smith and then he did his ITI in electrical.
He was a National Body Building Judge and also a member selection committee member for IBBF. Vice President South India Body Building & Fitness Federation, General secretary BelagaviDistrict body Building Association & E.C member of Karnataka State Body Building Association were some of his positions held where he even tried to do good for the sport. People like Suresh Hundre and sports clubs helped him reach his goal.
Would you like to tell us about your early days and family?
Sunil Aptekar ————> My father was in the Army and I was born in Udhampur in J&K. I don’t remember much of that but do remember some days spent in Sangrur. After a few postings, my father kept us at Belagavi only. Our financial position was not very good and after my dad service from the army, he started to work as an auto driver. Sunil recalls days when the family could not get to eat for a day, but even then they all stayed together and came over the difficulties of life. I was doing my BA but I lost my brother in an accident and then I had to leave the course and I took up ITI.
When did you decide to get into bodybuilding and why?
Sunil Aptekar ————> My entry to Bodybuilding was not planned. I could not get selected in the Indian Air force and hence my father had shouted on me. I was very weak whereas my father quite built and strong. I never had the confidence in me. After that incident, I decided to build my body and started to go to the corporation Gymnasium. There was no trainer nor coach, I just started to work out and I had decided may anything happen I will work hard and make my body. Then one day I was asked to participate in the bodybuilding competition in which I won and my first title which got my name was the Dasara Shree at Mysore.
What was your parent’s reaction to your decision of joining the gym?
Sunil Aptekar ————> There was no reaction at all. My father thought he is going to the gym let him go at least he will have some good health if nothing else. But when I won the Dasara Shree and I was interviewed and my photos were published in the new papers my dad proudly said, “You have made me proud.”My father then took a keen interest in my training and saw to it that I get the good diet and I also exercise the correct way.
What is it about bodybuilding that you love so much?
Sunil Aptekar ————> Bodybuilding is the mother of all sports I believe. Always health is more than wealth. If one has a good body, here I mean a healthy body the mind automatically is fresh and fit. One gets the inner confidence when one is fit. Only bodybuilding does not mean taking supplements and growing one’s muscles. This is an art of keeping the body fit with a good mental balance and a good diet. Once I got the confidence I loved this and opted that I would try to make a career in it.
What are your favorite and least favorite exercises?
Sunil Aptekar ————> My favorite exercises are chest exercises, dumbbell press. I never liked the calf exercises.
How was your early experience in the world of bodybuilding? Would you like to share your first achievement?
Sunil Aptekar ————> I was taking part in the local championships but when I won the Dasara shree I got a good name and from then one I never looked back. In a competition, the TOP 6 Mr.India’s were participating and I participated in it and that boosted my confidence a lot as I was appreciated by all.
With no trainer/coach all I did was experimented and learned. Then there was no internet where I could have searched for information. It was all trial and error.
What are your tips for the beginner, intermediate and advanced bodybuilder?
Sunil Aptekar ————> What tips can I give? Work hard and there is no substitute for hard work in bodybuilding. One should be very disciplined in the diet which helps the body to grow to at least 70% and 30% is exercises. Too much is always bad. In our times there were no supplements available like the ones now, one should be very careful when using them. Many leave this sport in the middle and then complain of leg pain etc. But the fault is ours. When you are not working out, your diet intake should also be reduced in that proportion.
Please tell us about the Aptekar Sports foundation?
I recently started the Aptekar sports foundation with an aim to help the upcoming talent of Belagavi then it can be from any sports, being a sports person and playing the game is of utmost importance and many talented players leave it due to lack of money and training. Foundation will try to bridge this gap. The foundation has organized a Marathon run in December.
What is the toughest part about bodybuilding for you?
Sunil Aptekar ————> 70% diet is responsible for the body. Your digestive system should be the best and if it isn’t you won’t be a good bodybuilder. It is not only that one should look fit but one should feel fit from the within. Even today I do dumbbell press every day, stretching exercises, running and even at 47 now I feel young enough.
Who’s your favorite bodybuilder?
Sunil Aptekar ————> Arnold Schwarzenegger has been my first and top favorite. His approach is what I liked most and even today I like him the most.
You got a job in the railways, how was this?
Sunil Aptekar ————> Well the current job is not my first job. The first job I did was in Hindustan Latex, then South Central Railway, CISF I worked for 3 years- but I was not promoted and then the South Railway coach saw me and asked me whether I would like to join the railways, from then I am in the Railways.
Do you think that the sport of bodybuilding has future in India?
Sunil Aptekar ————> The future of bodybuilding is very good now and we have very good trainers and fitness level and the craze of bodybuilding will take it higher. But the glamor part as in cricket is not there in this port which hurts me a lot. This sport requires a lot of money and hard work. Most of the money goes off into the diet, so if there are sponsors who take care of it one can easily concentrate on the training part.
Any Support from the government?
Sunil Aptekar ————> Literally nothing. I was the First person from Karnataka to be representing at the Mr. Asia tournament and I also won it but the government never supported me. In 1992 there were blasts next to my house and the victims were given 2 lakhs in compensation but no one ever thought of asking us what had happened to us.
In 1997 the city corporation had passed a resolution for allotment of a plot to you, what happened to that?
Sunil Aptekar ————> Yes, on 30 August 1997 I was allotted a plot by resolution No.130/131 done by the City Corporation and the said resolution was passed unanimously by all the members. In the middle I was allotted a BUDA plot as any other citizen for which I paid money by taking loans but as I had no money left to build the house the said plot was reacquired by BUDA. I have been in numerous times to the MLAs for support and allotment of that plot but no one has done it. Even after the resolution is passed I did not get the plot and now it is over 16 years, how will more people want to join this sport after this kind of treatment. Now I feel the time has come for me to sell all my medals I had won over the years. Let’s see if I can raise some money from that at least.
What is the best thing about Belagavi you like?
Sunil Aptekar ————> There is something magical in this place which I can’t express in words. When I had won awards I was felicitated in Sangli, where they had asked me to come and settle in Sangli, but I did not go, Now I repent sometimes if I had gone there may the story would have been different, But Belagavi is heaven on earth for sure.
First published 2011