Muscle Man

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Muscle Man
Muscle Man

Kamaldip Singh Kahma has become the first Indian from Melbourne to win bronze for Australia at the World Fitness European Championship. By Indira Laisram
Kamaldip Singh Kahma was scrawny and weighed only 39 kilos when he was in his second year of college – far too small and thin to get noticed by anyone. “I used to get teased a lot,” he says of his growing up days in Nawanshahr, Punjab. So in his bid to find an identity, Kahma enrolled in a gym with the hope that a few pounds of muscle would help him turn things around.
But it was an agonizing start. The first day he stepped into the gym, he could not lift a 6-7 kg weight as he was weak. Kahma vividly recalls few fellows at the gym laughing at him. Unable to tolerate their jeer he decided to quit, walked up to the coach and asked for a refund of the fees. The coach Gurinder Singh Bansal told him he had no problem returning the paltry sum but he also posed him a question: “Why don’t you prove them wrong? I am with you, do something to show them.” It would be a question that would change Kahma’s life, dramatically.
Coach Bansal, who Kahma looks up to this day, offered to train him. For the next eight months, Kahma didn’t know anything else except training and began making steady gains. “I noticed my muscle build up and I gained seven kilos.”
It was also during his time in the gym that Kahma thought he might have a knack for – bodybuilding, but was of course unsure. Around that time, a competition was coming up at the district level and when Bansal actually asked Kahma to take part, he thought it was a joke. “All these people used to make fun of me, now you are making fun,” Kahma told Bansal.
Kahma eventually competed in the under-60 kg category. He was ranked 7 among 35 participants and went back home with a prize for making it to the top 10. It was his first trophy. And that is when something really changed. His training became an obsession.
Exactly three months later, Kahma took part in another district level competition and bagged the first prize. “That was an unbelievable moment for me. It was December 2000. He trained harder. He had become the body he wanted to have.
In 2001, Kahma went on to win in his weight category and the overall competition at university. He became Mr Nawanshahr Overall. In 2003, he opened his gym with a bit of help from his parents and some loan from the bank. At the same time, he opened a food supplement store.
He ran the gym for three years till 2006 when his wife decided to move to Australia to study her Masters in Teaching. Kahma thought this was also a good opportunity for him as he could develop his potential to the fullest in an advanced country.
Kahma arrived in Australia in 2007. Life in the initial years was full of struggle, he candidly admits. “From 2007 to 2011, I did not do any body building. It was the years of struggling associated with the life of a student. I had to first settle down.” But in 2011 when the couple got their permanent residency, he got back into his game and immersed himself in training.
That very next year in 2012, he won the Mr Victoria title (Class III) from among 110 competitors and was the runners up in the Mr Australia contest in the under 74 kg Class III category. The Mr Australia bodybuilding contest for men and women is organised by NABBA/WFF (National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association and World Fitness Federation) Australia. It also incorporates fitness, figure, bikini and sports model competitions. Since 2007, the Australian Championships has included both NABBA bodybuilding classes for men and women and athletic bodybuilding classes under the World Fitness Federation (WFF).
The next year Kahma took a break. “Rest is very important,” he says. “Your body is like a spring, if you keep pressing it is bound to be loose and it will stop forming muscles. Exercise, however, must be continued; rest means not to compete but to continue with exercises.”
Come early 2015 and Kahma had gained well in size and stature. He went on to win five competitions back to back this year – Mr Victoria, Mr Australia, Mr International, Mr Southern Hemisphere and then the bronze title or the second runner up for Australia at the WFF European Championship held on July 4 in Italy. He was the top three at the WFF Peninsula Classic Performance division.
Through this win, Kahma created history by becoming the first Indian to represent Australia and winning bronze. Building muscles is an occupational necessity for Kahma – but one that gives not just him but everyone around him a lot of pride.