The story of a body builder who earns his living as a coolie.
Report and Photo: Sumohan

Berhampur: Of all the body builders who have dominated in Ganjam district and in the State level, 35-years-old Udaya Mallick of Berhampur is certainly an exception. He became “Mr. Ganjam” for the first time during 1997 and delighted the judges after becoming third in the State level “Utkal Shree Championship” held at Rourkela during 2001 without any patronage and rigorous training. Though body building is his passion and he is still maintaining it, he is presently working as a coolie to maintain his family and his widowed mother.

Wife often massages Udaya with hot mustard oil mixed with garlic over the body before sleeping. “My husband needs more financial and mental support from the Government to achieve his goal. He takes rest at home from 12 noon to 5 pm. He goes to the Health and Fitness Zymnasium at Gandhi Nagar main road at 6 pm and remains their till 9 pm. He goes to Pradhan Lorry Godown at 10 in the night and works there till 8 in the next morning”, said the wife of Udaya.

Udaya works as a coolie for loading and unloading bags and other articles in Pradhan Lorry Godown at Raja Sahi Square in Bada Bazar here. “I work from 10 in night till 7 to 8 am in the next morning every day. I load and unload about 300 to 400 bags during this period and earn Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 per day. The average monthly income is six to seven thousand rupees”, he said.

S Madhusudan Prusty, Manager, Pradhan Lorry Godown said, “Udaya is very efficient and hard working. We are very much pleased with his work.”

Udaya eats 4 slices of bread, two bananas, 5 boiled eggs and one apple in the morning as breakfast, rice, dal and curry in the launch, five boiled eggs in the evening and 7 to 8 rotis, boiled green vegetables and a glass of milk in his dinner. “This diet is not sufficient to keep myself physically fit. I need more protein but cannot afford to due to financial constraints as it would cost around six thousand rupees per month” ,Udaya said.

“I lost my father, basically a mason when I was only 5 years-old. Mother Ulli brought me up along with other four brothers and two sisters who were then small. My mother earned money through many house hold works. But I along with my elder brother Satya Narayana worked hard to earn something from the childhood and helped our mother in managing the family. As a result of which I never enrolled my name in any school and still remain illiterate. At the age of 15 I became a Pata Rickshaw puller (a rickshaw meant for transporting goods only) of Friends Pata Rickshaw Chalak Sangha and my daily income was Rs. 30 to Rs. 40. I am still a member of Friends Pata Rickshaw Chalak Sangha”, Udaya said.

Though nobody from Udaya’s family members are in body building line, Udaya was interested for body building after witnessing the activities of Shankar Physical Cultural Club which was situated near his native house. “I always visited the club during my leisure hours and it developed immense interest for body building in myself. Bhaskar Mohanty Secretary of that club encouraged me and Baburam Sahu trained me and guided me in body building. As my financial condition was very poor the club never charged any fee from me so I am indebted to them for this kind gesture”, Udaya recalled.

Udaya faced the first stage competition during 1997 at Municipal Gymnasium here and was crowned as Mr. Ganjam. “I have traveled Bhanjanagar, Aska, Rambha and other places in Ganjam district with success. I was also Mr. Ganjam for 2002-03, the Best Physique held at Rambha during last year. I became third in Utkal Shree competition held at Rourkela during 2001, stood second in Utkal Kumar held at Bhubaneswar in 2001-02, also stood second in Utkal Kumar at Aska during 2004 and stood third in Mr. Orissa during 2010 held at Sambalpur”, Udaya said.

Financial constraints have forced Udaya not to participate in competitions outside Odisha. However, last year he had participated in a body building National level competition held at Karnataka and West Bengal after one of his friend provided him the travel expenses. He remained in the best 10 position at both the places.

Lack of proper diet, training and finance is the main reason for this poor show. With proper diet, training and finance for at least continuous 3 years, I would definitely snatch “Mr. India title”, Udaya said with much confidence.

Udaya is never interested to go out of the State. “If I go out side Odisha I have to spend the traveling expense from my own pocket. I would also loose the money which I am earning as a coolie to maintain my family. But the passion for body building has forced me to train the youngsters at Health and Fitness Gymnasium at Ganghi Nagar main road in Berhampur since last one year”, said Udaya.

Udaya who is blessed with a son Amit (6 years), is not at all interested to teach his son the techniques of body building. Amit is now reading at Maa Saraswati Bidya Bhavan here. “Let him study as much as he can, because I was not able to read in my childhood because of the family condition. I will never turn Amit to be an illiterate”, Udaya said.