HIV Inflicted Muscleman Wins Mr South Asia Title

IMPHAL – Despite all odds, HIV positive Manipuri muscleman Khundrakpam Pradipkumar has bagged the “Mr South Asia” title in the just-concluded 9th Mr South Asia Body Building Championship, 2012, held at Ludhiana, Punjab.

Pradipkumar, who arrived at Imphal airport in the afternoon, was greeted by functionaries of All Manipur Gymnasium Welfare Association, his family members, well-wishers and members of Self Support Group (SSG), a body formed by HIV positive widows of the state.

Before reaching his Khamnam Leirak residence in Imphal West in a motorcade, Pradip was given a fitting reception by teachers and students of Zenith Academy located near the airport.

“I’m feeling very happy after bagging the prestigious “Mr South Asia” title. I have proved that people living with HIV can do wonders. I’m facing a tough time ahead of the 4{+t}{+h} Mr World championship scheduled to be held in Bangkok next month as I lack funds to procure nutritional diet. But I’ll go on for the title,” said Pradip (43). The muscleman spends about Rs 40,000 in procuring nutritional diet every month.

Pradip, who is on Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART), faced great hardships in arranging money to buy nutritional diet few ahead of his “Mr South Asia” competition. Manipur Aids Control Society (MACS), which used to pay Rs 8000 a month to Pradipkumar for procuring his nutritional support after appointing him as its brand ambassador, has stopped paying the money to him since June.

Another setback was the government’s failure to appoint him as a regular employee in the youth affairs and sports department despite tall promises made by a minister in 2009. All was not lost for him as members of SSG carried out a charity campaign and gave Rs 90,000 to him.

“A local civil body christened “Joint Brothers’ Group” also donated him Rs 1.5 lakh for his cause,” said Pradip, who revealed his status after bagging the 60-Kg category senior Mr Manipur title in December, 2007. The muscleman has also bagged silver and bronze medals in different national competitions and also stood 8th in the Mr World competition.

“I would not have been in this position without the generous efforts of the SSG and Joint Brothers’ Group, for which I’m grateful to them,” said Pradip.

“Though governor Gurbachan Jagat, speaker Th Lokeshore and some ministers and MLAs donated money, chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh didn’t provide any assistance to me despite repeated pleas by SSG members. Instead, the CM’s office staff ridiculed the SSG members,” added Pradip.

Manipur is one of the six high HIV prevalence states of the country. According to MACS, the state has 38,016 people infected with HIV, including 10,109 women and 2,578 children.

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