A truly sad case.
Tragically, a former state-level bodybuilder and professional coach has taken to vagrancy outside Vasai Road railway station, after he was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis six months ago. Anil Shetty, 67, sits with a placard that reads, “I have been felicitated by the governor for my bodybuilding games, now I am penniless for treatment. Pls help me, Pls save me.”
The condition has damaged his joints, making it difficult for him to walk or stand, excluding him from earning a living with labor. Shetty claims that the doctors he consulted have said that his treatment will cost him Rs 2.5 lakh.
Born on August 15, 1950 in Mangalore, Shetty came to Mumbai after he lost his parents at age 14. Here, he lived with a family who belonged to his hometown, in Kurla.
“I took up a job in a plastic company, and earned Rs 78 a month,” Shetty told Mid-Day.com. “From this amount, I would send Rs 20 to my my siblings back home, and spend Rs 25 in the mess. The remaining money I would spend on my physique.”
In his late teens, Shetty frequented Shivaji Park’s local gym, Samarth Vyayam Mandir. A few senior bodybuilders advised him to try his luck at a bodybuilding contest.
“At 21, I won the Nutan Mumbai Shree title, and was the talk of the town,” he says.
In 1974, Shetty won the Mr Maharashtra Shree Junior title, after which he was sent to participate in Junior Mr India in 1976-77, a national bodybuilding championship that was held in Kolkata that year, and he won second place.
“That same year, the Maharashtra government felicitated me with the Rashtriya Krida Vijeta Pad at Raj Bhavan,” he says.
After his efforts were recognised by the state, he Shetty landed a job at Vijaya Bank’s Churchgate branch. The job afforded him a steady income and free time to pursue his dream.
Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to clinch any top titles after this.
“For 10 years, I participated across competitions, but luck evaded me. Perhaps there was something lacking in my workout,” he recalled.
But, instead of losing hope, Shetty moved to Nalasopara with his wife and sons, and opened a local gym. He called it Bablu Gym and trained young boys, several of whom entered pro-bodybuilding.
In the hope of launching a bigger platform for bodybuilders, Shetty launched Prime Fitness Club in Vasai in 1999.
“But, somehow, I couldn’t strike a balance between my passion and business. The gym incurred heavy losses; I lost around R50 lakh.”
Meanwhile, family troubles were mounting. On a whim, Shetty says he left home and moved into his sister’s apartment at Evershine City, where he lived on rent. He did well until this year, when he was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis in his left leg.
“I can’t stand for long. My movement is restricted,” he says.
Shetty’s orthopaedic surgeon Dr Suraj Baghel, who mid-day spoke to, said that urgent treatment will ensure Shetty’s condition doesn’t deteriorate.
“Even after a surgery is performed, he will need medical care for the next least 18 months.”
Shetty was forced to take to begging to collect funds after his savings ran dry.
“I am reliant on my sister even for food,” he says.
“I work with a private company on contract basis, and earn a meagre salary of Rs 6,000. This is just enough to meet our food expenses,” says Shetty’s younger sister Sangeet, age 58.
Shetty says Mumbai has been generous. Passersby give him whatever they can afford to part with.
“I wish to get well so that I can earn a living again,” he says.
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