Indian bodybuilding has managed to carve out eyeballs-grabbing performances on the world stage over many decades now – the illustrious names of Monotosh Roy, Manohar Aich and Premchand Dogra easily spring to minds. Anuj Kumar Taliyan - an Indian Army Havildar from the Madras Engineer Group, has catapulted the country into the international spotlight, winning the gold medal in the 100+ kg category at the recent 11th World Bodybuilding Championship held at Jeju Island, South Korea.
The feat of 28-year-old bodybuilder, who hails from Sardhana in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district, is all the more significant because he is the first Indian ever to bag a gold medal in the 100+ kg category World Bodybuilding Championships that are organised by the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation (WBPF).
Understandably, the brawny Indian Army bodybuilder is in seventh heaven with his World Championship gold medal effort, but is candid enough to concede that there were butterflies in his stomach. Anuj, who only took up bodybuilding seriously after joining the Indian Army in 2010, in a freewheeling chat said:
As many as 15 bodybuilders competed in the 100+ kg category and Anuj had to pull out his best to win the gold medal, pushing bodybuilders from Thailand and Pakistan to silver and bronze positions. “Bodybuilders from Thailand and Pakistan gave me a run for my money but I was able to prevail over them as I managed to impress the ten judges to corner glory,” he says.
Anuj qualified for the 11th World Bodybuilding Championship after winning the gold in the 100+ kg category of the national selection trials held in Andhra Pradesh in July this year. He has been enjoying a rich vein of form over the past twelve months or so. The burly Armyman had won the gold medal in the 100+ kg category in the 2019 Senior Nationals at Chennai and became Mr India in his weight category, and also emerged as the overall runners-up. Anuj also emerged as Mr India after he won the gold medal in the 100+ kg category at the 2018 Senior Nationals as well as won the Best Bodybuilder Improvement Award.
Interestingly, Anuj derived inspiration from his elder brother Shyamveer Taliyan, who was seriously into bodybuilding. “I got attracted towards bodybuilding from my elder brother who also works in the Army (in Bengal Engineer Group),” says Anuj, whose first passion was wrestling. “I used to be fond of wrestling (dangal) in my school days. But travelling from my village to Meerut daily was a hindrance and I gradually shifted interest towards bodybuilding.”
Bodybuilding needs utmost dedication and discipline – so how does manage his Indian Army job as well as his bodybuilding. “I must thank Indian Army for their unstinted support so that I can focus on my bodybuilding without having to go on work duty on a regular basis. Without the support of my Indian Army I don’t think I could have won this World Championship gold medal,” he says in effusive praise of his employers.
Anuj was more than willing to spell out his training sessions. The bodybuilder, who got married two years ago, quips:
Diet is also key to the success of bodybuilding and Anuj enlightens on his daily diet. “I prefer a bowl of oats and ten eggs (egg white only) or a bowl of oats and boiled potatoes before I kickstart my morning workout – the idea is to have food that can be quickly digestible. I have small meals throughout the day and my diet comprises chicken, dal, roti, green vegetables and fruits. I have one kg of chicken every day and 30 eggs (egg white) daily and also consume fish from time to time,” he reels out his food habits.
With the World Bodybuilding Championship gold medal under his belt, Anuj is high on confidence and wants to have a go at the Mr Olympia contest in two years’ time. “The World Bodybuilding Championship gold medal has infused a lot of self-belief that I can win on the world stage. I will train hard and hopefully get ready for Mr Olympia contest and make the country proud again,” Anuj, fires the parting shot with aplomb.