MEET – Mr. South India S. Murthy
Freak – this was the word that came to my mind when I first saw S. Murthy of Tiruvallur onstage.
I still remember the competition as if it were held only yesterday. It was 2008 January and my friends and I had gone to Chengalpet to watch an inter-districts bodybuilding championship.
The moment I saw this young champion flex his muscles in the bantamweight class, I was blown away. I had never seen him before and was at a loss of words to describe his muscle hardness, separation and conditioning. He looked too full to compete in 65-kg class, yet awesome, and easily won the overall title that day! I was later told that Murthy was a South India champion and making a comeback after a break.
Ever since that competition, I have stayed in touch with this little freak and carefully followed his progress. I interacted with him a while ago with the intention of introducing him in the print media, which somehow didn’t work out. So, I thought I could at least introduce him to readers of my blog, which is a forum for common persons like any one of us.
Team Masters: Thanks for coming all the way to my place for giving an interview Murthy, it should have been a really long ride on your two-wheeler.
Murthy: Oh, that’s nothing sir. I know the interest you and your people have in the sport of bodybuilding. We [competitors]can see your involvement in the game. So, this is the least we could do for you.
Team Masters: I feel honoured Murthy….and now, let me fire right away. I was told that you have been competing since 2003. Despite your accomplishments, which include titles at the State and South Indian levels, why is it that people say you are not a serious competitor?
Murthy: Every year, at least two State-level competitions and two city-level shows are being conducted. You will certainly be aware of the amount of money we have to spend on quality food and supplements. It would cost me at least Rs. 10,000 to get ready for a show, if I have to train and diet for two months. As I financially cannot afford to spend that much money twice a year, I choose my shows and get ready only one season. Besides, doing too many shows may also not be good for my health. It’s just too much stress. That is another reason. However, if someone cites my choosy attitude as a reason and says that I am not a ‘serious’ competitor, I really don’t know what to say.
Team Masters: I can’t find fault with your approach Murthy. Just ensure that you compete at least one season every year. Or else, you may fade out of the memory of fans and judges. Anyway, I can see that you are competing on a regular basis and that too, in good form. I congratulate you for that and move on to the next question. Tell me about your parents and family.
Murthy: I was born on February 12 in Chennai. I have two elder brothers, an elder sister, a younger brother and sister.
Team Masters: Hmm…pretty big a family, I should say. What is your father?
Murthy: My father died some years ago. My mother is a housewife.
Team Masters: Oh, sorry Murthy, I didn’t know that. Whom does your mother stay with?
Murthy: She stays with me sir. I am right now settled in Tiruvallur. I have a gym called Linda Gym. I have had the experience of training some VIPs and celebrities. That helped me earn a little money. With all my experience, I am successfully running my gym and making the ends meet. I have conducted competitions at districts-level and earned the appreciation of association members. But, it is not a very comfortable life sir. That’s why I am unable to enter more competitions.
Team Masters: Didn’t you try for a job in railways or services?
Murthy: I did try for a job in railways. Unfortunately, there was an error in my application form and that ended up in my request for a job getting rejected. Ever since that, I have been trying for some government job. I hope luck smiles at me pretty soon.
Team Masters: You will get a good job Murthy. I wish you all luck in advance. Tell me about how you got interested in bodybuilding and about your first hero.
Murthy: I was a kabaddi player in my younger days. I started training when I was 15. My first inspiration was Mr. South Asia S. Kumarananthan. I saw a picture of his in a magazine and felt like ‘wow! Can an Indian truly look like this!’
Team Masters: What a coincidence. Kumarananthan happens to be my first hero as well. I remember seeing him on a television programme called ‘Deha balam,’ which was telecast on the erstwhile Golden Eagle Communications (now Star Vijay TV). I was just out of school and freaked out looking at the young champ, who was then Mr. South India. Please continue…
Murthy: I started training at SVS Gym at Aminjikarai. My first instructor was a former Mr. South India Venkatesh. I also received posing tips from another champion V.K. Velu. It was then I met South Indian champion M.P. Manoj Kumar of ICF. It was his guidance that helped me change my body dramatically. I was also helped by Kumarananthan.
Team Masters: This is news to me Murthy. I always thought that Multi-Mr. India J. Muniappan was your guru!
Murthy: Muniappan was the one who rescued me from the trenches and made a good human being out of me. I’ll tell you what happened sir. I first competed in Mr. Chennai contest in 2003, but did not place. I trained hard and placed fifth in 60 kg class in another city meet, which was held some months later. In 2004, I won bronze medals in Mr. Chennai and VMR Classic Mr. Tamil Nadu. It was then I won South India. At this very crucial stage, my father passed away. It had a very bad impact on me. I started behaving like a crazy guy. I stopped training and started indulging in kind of what I would call ‘goondaism.’ Muniappan entered my life at this stage. He was the one who made me feel the necessity to rediscover myself and concentrate on bodybuilding. I started training under his supervision and my body improved more than ever before. I was back in good form and started my second innings. I qualified for 2007 Mr. India Federation Cup held in Salem. I won the inter-districts meet in January 2008, a city meet and Mr. Tamil Nadu contest held at Coimbatore in2008. I qualified for Senior Mr. India held at Meerut . However, the competition was too tough and I could place only in top 10. In 2009, I entered Mr. Tamil Nadu held at Tiruvallur and placed third. I entered Junior Mr. India held at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, and placed fifth. I started training harder than ever before and won JKR Classic Mr. Tamil Nadu in 60 kg class in October 2009.
Team Masters: You also competed in Satish Sugars Classic Nationals held at Gokak in 2009 and won bronze, right? A lot of people told me that you could have won silver.
Murthy: Yes…but that’s fine sir. I won silver in Mr. South India held at Secunderabad in December 2009.
And then you competed in Senior Mr. India held at Goa in 2010, right?
Murthy: Yes, I will do my best to win more titles in the future. I am trying to win the big ones so that I may get a government job.
Team Masters: You can do it, Murthy. I am sure of it. Now tell me, who are the Indian champions you like besides Kumarananthan?
Murthy: Mr. India M. Arasu is a very talented person and great champion. Mr. India runner-up Ranjith Kumar is an embodiment of patience and hard work. Mr. India champions M. Kamaraj and Illayaraja have a brilliant smile to go along with their incredible physiques. Mr. India Mohammed Abdullah is easily the most knowledgeable bodybuilder and trainer I have ever come across. Three-time Mr. India Jayaprakash has a great body and incredible legs. Last but not least, seven-time Mr. India G. Ekambaram is an all-time favourite. I was thrilled to receive my trophy from him at JKR Classic State meet. His simplicity is something which amazed me.
Team Masters: You have something good to say about so many great champions. That’s nice Murthy, it should tell all competitors that they have to respect all senior champions.
Team Masters: How do you train in the off-season? What do you do to gain weight?
Murthy: I begin my workout with 15 to 20 minutes of brisk walking every day. Then I choose a movement for either upper abs or lower abs or obliques and perform 4 sets. I then train one muscle in the morning and another muscle in the evening. I perform 4 sets on each exercise using Pyramid technique and train each muscle twice a week. I eat several small meals throughout the day. I consume lean meat, fish and vegetables. If I don’t gain enough weight, I start eating small meals even once in every one-and-half hours. I drink whey protein after my workouts. When I start my contest diet, I bump up my cardio to 35 minutes. I also start cutting down carbohydrates.
Team Masters: Alright, tell me about your other interests.
Murthy: I also like sports such as tennis and football. I like movies and my favourite actors are Kamal Haasan and Surya.
Team Masters: Ok, tell me who are the persons you would like to thank?
Murthy: Muniappan would of course be on the top of that list. I would not be here if he hadn’t entered my life. I would also thank Manoj and his family, who treated me like I were their own family member. I am also indebted to Kumarananthan. My well-wishers and supporters include Maduravoyal’s Devadoss sir and Ramadas sir. My friends Padmanabhan and Sathyamurthy also need special mention. And, another person I cannot forget is you, sir.
Team Masters: Me?!! You are kidding.
Murthy: Certainly not sir. I respect you for the interest you show in our sport and competitors. I have never seen a person’s entire family involved so much in bodybuilding. That’s very rare. You people are very special to us.
Team Masters: Thanks a lot Murthy. I am glad that competitors like you consider my team members and me genuine friends. I wish you all the best for your future competitions. Good luck.
_ C. Lakshmi Kumar