The quote “Diamonds are made under pressure” is very well defined by our very own Manipuri boy Arambam Boby Singh, a five-time Mr. World Body Building Champion.
Arambam Boby Singh is the second youngest son of Late Arambam Ibomcha and Arambam ongbi Dashumati Devi, two humble parents hailing from Lilong Chajing Mairenkhong Leikai in Imphal West. He lost his father when he was just two years old and it was his mother who had to work hard in the fields regularly to bring up her six children well. There were times when the entire family survived just on rice and dal (pulses). Lack of proper diet and monetary constraints are just a few hardships he had to face as a young kid. His struggles were never-ending, which also resulted in him continuing his studies only till the 10th grade.
Mr. Boby had a keen interest in all kinds of sports right from a very young age, which also includes football and taekwondo. He joined gymnastics when he was 12-13 years old and continued as a gymnast for over 4-5 years. The sportsmanship spirit never really left him even during his tough times and it was his dedication and love towards sports that ultimately led him to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) located in Langol during the year 1989-90 as a gymnast. But being quite young and immature he somehow got into a duel with one of the staff members of the SAI and he was thereafter thrown out of the center.
The 4-5 years after SAI was quite difficult for him but his zeal and love towards sports never lessened. He shifted his discipline from gymnastics to athletics. He became a good short distance runner (100, 200 m). His struggles during this period of life were so much so that he himself had to do odd jobs in order to maintain his regular diet, which we all know is very important for an athlete. He did jobs like carrying bricks and assisting mason in building works. He even opened a chicken farm in order to get eggs for his diet. His struggles somewhat reduced when he entered into Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in 1993 under sports quota.
The athletes in SSB were required to go out of the campus to Manipur University ground in order to continue their practice sessions. That was when he got complimented by his sister’s friend on how good his physique was and that was the push for him to join the gym. However, it was against the rules of SSB for any athlete to get into bodybuilding. But he did so anyway in secret without informing the authorities, with encouragements from his seniors in SSB.
Khoirom Yashkul Singh is Boby’s first trainer in the field of bodybuilding and he has all praises for him. What made his trainer unique was the fact that all his training were made of bamboo and discarded parts of other vehicles. We even come to know that his trainer was so impressed by Boby’s body on the first day itself that he remarked Boby of being capable of winning the Manipur Championships. Consequently, just two months after Boby’s joining the gym he was allowed to take part in North-East Body Building Championships held at Jorhat, Assam in the year 1995. And of course, Boby became the champion of his category.
Continuing the trend of winning since then, he became the Junior National Champion in 1996. Also in the year 1996, he represented the junior category in Asian Championships in Delhi and got the 4th position.
Luck favored him when he felt that it was getting difficult for him to continue bodybuilding while being in SSB. He got a call letter from South Eastern Railway, Kolkata and joined in there as a junior clerk in November 1997, where he trained under Shambu Chatterjee. Boby first took part in the Senior Nationals (70kg) from Railways in February 1998. He continued participating in many Nationals and Inter-Railways Championships. In 1998. He also took part in the Senior Asian Championship in Vietnam where he bagged the fifth position. In 2003, he represented India in Mr. World Championship but couldn’t win the title.However, after that he confined himself only to Nationals and Inter-Railways Championships because participating in International Championship was a costly affair.
There was a time when Boby felt that there was no future for him in bodybuilding and so he decided to leave the sport and shift to Guwahati which was closer to his hometown. He applied for a transfer to NF Railways and the authorities agreed to it. Working in Kolkata for 12 years till 2009, he finally moved to NF Railways Guwahati. Even though he had to forfeit his promotion and grade because of his transfer, this promotion but proved to be a blessing in disguise for him. NF Railways had a sporting culture and the officers were very supportive of him. Boby was the first one to start a bodybuilding team as because there was none before him. With people’s support and state’s body building secretary B. Goswami, he participated in Asian and World Championships.
In 2010, Arambam Boby Singh participated in the World Championship first time after 2003 and not to forget, he became the World Champion in 75kg category (Sr) in Benaras for the first time. With him participating in World Championships since then, Boby has to his credit seven medals in total. Five gold, one silver and one bronze. He has won the Asian Championships two times while also securing the second position in it twice. Boby has also won the South Asian Championships three times.
Even though this great personality has achieved so much in his field of work, he is still craving for recognition in his very own state, let alone recognition in the country. Moreover, there is hardly any support from the Government except for the tremendous support from his NF Railways family.
This article is thus a tribute to the great Arambam Boby Singh who has brought pride to our country not only once, but multiple times. His story is an inspiration to many who think they can attain heights because of their poor background. Mr. Boby has undoubtedly proved that with hardwork and dedication you can achieve all that you want. His humble background never restrained him but in fact pushed him to work harder and harder in order to completely overturn the situation he was born in.
Written by Lotus Gogoi