By Richa Kharshandi
Arnold Schwarzenegger was Donbor Rumnong’s hero since the latter was a child. Now, Rumnong is inspiring many young men in the state, especially after winning the Mr India Men’s Physique 2019 title.
“I started bodybuilding in 2010 and I have admired Arnold Schwarzenegger since my childhood. I guess it all started from there. My dad used to tell me, ‘when you grow up, you must join gym and become like Arnold’,” the 31-year-old bodybuilder said.
However, Rumnong never planned to take part in any competition but with time, he developed an interest in bodybuilding and won accolades.
In 2014, he competed for the first time for Mr Iron Man title where he was the first runner-up. “In 2017, I became the first Mr Meghalaya Men’s Physique and then I got the opportunity to participate at the national level that was held in New Delhi,” he said.
Mr India was a big challenge and Rumnong knew that he would have to work hard for the title. He did not win that year but got selected in the Top 10. Rumnong did not give up and again participated this year.
Terming bodybuilding as “a rich man’s sport”, the champion said it was difficult to continue because bodybuilders have to eat a lot and “it is necessary to be financially strong”.
Rumnong works out five times a week but during competitions he goes to the gym every day. A bodybuilder’s diet keeps changing and “for now I eat seven times a day with a gap of two-three hours”. He eats around 15 eggs a day and 180 gm of chicken.
“There are times when I want to give up because of the financial problem but then I think to myself that I cannot. This is what I want and I have to continue. As long as my mother and wife support me, I will keep going,” he said.
Despite his determination, motivation was scarce for Rumnong who was always discouraged to continue. “After winning Mr Meghalaya Men’s Physique, instead of encouraging me, there were people who said that ‘to go further you have to invest more. Do this and that. There will be no chance for you to continue from here’. I just told them that if I have it in me then nobody can stop me. And then I won the Mr North East title,” he recollected.
Even after becoming Mr North East, he was demoralised by many who pointed out the adversities instead of helping him move ahead. “See, people will prevent you from going ahead but you should never listen to the negativity of the people. I wouldn’t have won the Mr India Men’s Physique title if I had listened to them. Just listen to your heart and give your 100 per cent.”
Apart from his family members, his coach Aubrey Franklin Laloo has always supported him. “He inspires me a lot. There are times when I want to give up due to injuries but he is always there for me.”
The Mr India Men’s Physique winner said the role of a trainer is vital in bodybuilding. “From preparing diet chart for me to checking body weight frequently, it is all his responsibility. I am like a robot and my trainer coaches me what to do and I follow that,” he said.
The body builder has also not received any support from the Sports Department that always turned his requests down by saying “fund will take time to come”. He went to the department for fund a month before the competition and the officials there told him that it could be managed only after six months. “They just told me that it was not possible to provide financial help right now.”
Sports Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh had also assured help but nothing much was done.
Recalling an event that disheartened him, Rumnong said, “I was hurt once when the sport authority told me to ‘beg, borrow or steal’. However, they apologised immediately after.”
Rumnong was fortunate to have a sponsor who provided assistance. “I promote their product in the competitions and in return they provide supplements,” he said and added that other participants at the national event got help from their respective states.
The Meghalaya Body Building and Fitness Association also helped Rumnong financially and “I am very grateful to them”.
Besides the professional hazards, Rumnong had to struggle with his personal problems and the lowest point in his life was when he lost his daughter.
“I was broken from inside and did not want to continue but my wife told me not to give up after coming so close to the competition. My mother and my wife are very supporting. It is because of them I am what I am today,” the father said as his voice quivered with emotion.
Rumnong is a fighter and wants every young body builder to have perseverance. “Do not give up even if there is no fund from the government,” he said with conviction.
Photo courtesy: Donbor Rumnong