Bulging biceps, popping veins – The untapped goldmine of Pakistani bodybuilding

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All over the world, sports is given the same importance as any other professional and educational department. Establishments all over the world not only allocate grants for sports but also arrange credible coaches to train talented athletes.
They also make sure that these individuals participate in competitions world over by motivating and sponsoring talent.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Pakistan we see a different side of the picture where there is no shortage of talent but lack of support and recognition. The country has produced stars which have excelled not only in cricket, hockey, and squash but also in tennis, boxing, football, athletics, snooker, and now bodybuilding.

Despite facing thousands of difficulties, Pakistan luckily has a bunch of underrated heroes in bodybuilding, Fida Hussain Baloch is amongst one of those.

With Bulging biceps and popping veins, he bagged a number of titles like Mr.Pakistan, Mr. Karachi, Mr. Sindh, Mr.South Asia and Mr.Olympia Pakistan.

Talking to ARY Sports, Fida Hussain narrating his story says, “Even after winning such big titles I didn’t get what I deserve, the government has never taken us seriously so it really hurts”, he said.

Apart from the extensive workout, Fida is also fighting his way through financial instability.
“I and Atif waited a long time for things to get better in the future but all hope has gone in vain. Talent, unfortunately, has no importance and is completely ignored by the government. Finally, Atif took a step forward and went to Australia where he won a huge title”, he said.

“Now opportunities knock “my” door”, “I’m going to compete in the US for Ben Weider IFBB Cup and I give credit to Mr.Bilal the owner of My Gym who is supporting me financially, my exceptional trainers and mentors Mr. Tariq and Mr. Amir”, he added.

Fida refers to many heartbreaking cases, he said “it’s so unlucky for Pakistan that we win international competitions but unfortunately can’t wave our own country’s flag if the government will provide enough facilities to the athletes, I believe that we have enough potential to bring Mr.Olympia title home”, he laments.

Several bodybuilders in Pakistan have made it to the international arena at their own expense.

At the same time, there have been several underprivileged ones, who couldn’t afford to showcase their skills and thus were forgotten.

Another pride of Pakistan Syed Fazal Elahi who recently secured 5th rank in Malaysia also has national titles, claimed that neither federation nor the Government supports us.

“If a bodybuilder takes part in any international competition, the monthly expenditure is approx 0.3 million. That includes our diet and training, even the green jacket of Pakistan is not provided by the government”, Fazal said.

Earlier, Atif Anwar made headlines when he won the Arnold Classic Australia last year while representing Australia at the international events, similarly, Masoom Butt, another Pakistani bodybuilder, went to Ireland and represents his adopted country now.

In Europe At a competitive level, it is all about impressing a panel of judges, who are looking for the most aesthetically pleasing and balanced physique. Bodybuilders are required to perform seven compulsory poses: front double-biceps, front lat-spread, side chest, back double biceps, back lat-spread, side triceps, and abs and thighs.

Talking to a European athlete Bibark Shah, who was born in Holland to Balochi parents said, “It is easy to compete in the Netherlands, I was once looking at the competition and I thought why I’m not standing over there”.

Bibark is well-known for his posing style, though he has a Dutch nationality still he is eager to re-present Pakistan in fitness competitions as his parents are from Pakistan.

“I would like to come over here and I’ll be participating in an event here on 3rd March, Pakistan has amazing bodybuilders like Fida Baloch”, he said.

Bibark gave a wonderful advice to all the bodybuilder in Pakistan, he said, “What I noticed people think that Western countries are the best but I totally disagree! because you are so lucky that you are living in a country where fresh juices and organic meals are easily available at every corner at such economical prices and I wish Western countries had the same facilities”, he concludes.

However, the blame does not rest entirely with the government. Our obsession with cricket must be blamed as well. As a nation, our love for sports has never been balanced – we only care about cricket.

Tariq Zafar, the vice-president of Pakistan Bodybuilding Association and president of Sindh Bodybuilding Federation, told that they have been looking to provide the athletes every kind of financial and moral support. In this regard, he also quoted an incident where a young Pakhtoon man approached him and asked for his help.

“He was a young Pathan, he asked me to evaluate his body, I was astonished to see his arms, calf, he was in amazing shape. I asked him to join my gym and I will provide you training as well as diet. When he came again, I noticed a tattoo on his chest, which was a heart with an arrow and blood dripping from it, I inquired to him about it, he told ‘I was a lover of a girl, she got married and my heart was broken, so I started bodybuilding,” he shared with a laughter. “If you had a breakup, gymming can be the best remedy for you,” he added.

Tariq has remained a participant in different bodybuilding competitions and he is a well-known man in the field. He has trained athletes like Fida Baloch and Atif Anwar. Being a former bodybuilder himself, he knows the struggles athletes go through and how government turns a deaf ear to their problems. He complained about government’s ignorant behavior and told that if they are supported in the right manner, the young talented men of this country can hoist Pakistan’s flag high in every field. Like the revival of other international sports in Pakistan, Tariq wants to hold international bodybuilding competitions in the country.

“We are in talks with the Sindh government, we want to hold Mr. Pakistan competition here in Expo Center Karachi,” he revealed. “If we can host it successfully here and get government’s support, we can conduct an Asian level or even a bigger contest of bodybuilding in Pakistan which will feature athletes from different parts of the world,” Tariq concludes.

Be it the government or the private sector, no one is interested in sponsoring athletes such as hockey players, boxers, tennis players or runners. When was the last time you saw a non-cricket player featuring in the commercial for any product? Lack of sponsorship is a major reason why a talent like Atif and boxer Waseem is forced to abandon this country for good.

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