Spreading the gospel of body building

Veteran physical culturist R.L.J.Navaratne has promoted the iron sport in the outskirts through the Mr Hercules Body Building Championships which he conducts every year. This year the Body Building Championships will be held on November 26th at the Janasetha Foundation in Pokunuwita.

Body building is one sport in Sri Lanka that has taken physical culturists to a new level of thinking. The advent of high protein supplements and modern training methods have given rise to a new breed of body builders who have thrown out the Greek God image and embraced the Frankenstein look. Most of them earn a living from body building by working in gymnasiums as instructors.
However, there still remain a handful of physical culturists who ‘pump iron’ with a view of leading healthy lifestyles. Body building remains a past time for them.
R.L.J Navaratne, a veteran body builder and a former vice-president of the Sri Lanka Body Building Federation (SLBBF) is one body builder who has conducted his activities in physical culture within the frame work of amateurism. He is better known in the body building circles as the man who conducts the Mr. Hercules Body Building Championships.
This year too Navaratne has made arrangements for his annual muscle contest which will be held at Janasetha Foundation in Pokunuwita on November 26 (Sunday). Prejudging starts at 9.am. This marks the 19th occasion that Navaratne conducts the championships after he revived it in 1987. The Hercules championships were earlier conducted by the SLBBF before it ceased organizing it in 1984.
Navaratne in an interview with The Nation said that there was a great significance in the name Hercules being associated with body building. “A strong person called Argos took the name of Hercules. History reveals that he believed in the strength of his body more than in any thing else. I think the name Hercules really suits body building,” said Navaratne. According to Navaratne there have been times when body building clubs in India and Sri Lanka have been named after this strong man.
A key feature in this year’s Mr. Hercules Body Building Championships is that contestants will not be charged an entry fee. Asked why he had held the last couple of championships in the suburbs and not in Colombo, Navaratne said, “I believe efforts should be taken to develop the sport in areas away from the city.”
Navaratne said that he would do everything possible to ensure that contestants would not face difficulties while taking part in the championships. “I have decided to commence the championships early as 9 am so that contestants can return to their homes at a decent time. The championships will be held in keeping with the accepted weight classes to make sure that there is maximum participation,” explained Navaratne. (RN)