He makes his way to the Natural Olympia Multi-Sport Expo Weekend in San Diego, California, with a unique diet – a strictly vegetarian one that excludes even milk!
Thirty-seven-year-old bodybuilder Karuppanan Venkatesan, who migrated from Madurai to make Hyderabad his second home for close to two years now, is the only Indian at the championship.
A personal trainer to some of the film stars in the city, Venkatesan had developed a passion for the sport after watching actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a 10-year-old kid.
With his father Karuppanan running his own small-time business in building materials, this gentleman had the liberty to pursue his interest in the sport as he would have loved to.
“I am dreaming big – for a podium finish in the 70-kg event. I am confident of improving upon my last edition’s fifth place,” says a confident Venkatesan.
“It is never easy being a bodybuilder, especially if you are vegetarian. But thanks to 23 different varieties of nuts, and lots of yoga, I stay fit without any unwanted intake,” he reveals.
Interestingly, this bodybuilder is a post-Graduate in Philosophy & Religion from Kamaraj University but keen to chart out a different course in his career.
How did he make it to the Olympia?
“We have to submit all relevant documents online, include dope test reports from a qualified government agency and a certificate from the Indian Bodybuilding Association. In fact, not many venture to compete for fear of being caught for drug abuse,” he explains.
What about the funding for the trip?
“It cost me about Rs.2.5 lakh. I have been planning for this since I feel it is the ultimate test for any vegetarian bodybuilder. I hope to hold the Indian tricolour high on the podium with a sense of pride,” Venkatesan smiles.