The inspiration behind many body builders of Manipur, Nongthombam Maipak, popularly known as ‘Maipak, Son of Manipur’ and fondly called ‘Oja Maipak’ by bodybuilders of Manipur passed away at RIMS ICU on Monday after battling with an illness. He was 88.
Oja Maipak, one of the pioneer bodybuilders of the state, was born on June 12, 1935 at Uripok Sorbon Thingel Sinam Leikai. Maipak is the second son of Nongthombam Komol Singh and Tampaklei Devi.
During his bodybuilding career, he won the Mr India title in 1970 and then represented India in the Mr Universe Contest held on September 27, 1971 at Paris, France and was honoured with the ‘Best Indian Style Mythological Pose’.
In various interviews, Oja Maipak had espoused the importance of natural diets including vegetables, fruits, milk and eggs and discouraged artificially made food supplements.
During the 2nd World War, Maipak fell in love with weightlifting after seeing the amazing body structure of an Army Lieutenant Colonel, who temporarily resided at Naoremthong, practicing weightlifting regularly in morning and evening. And he decided to take up weightlifting.
After the War, he collected the iron remains of the war from the Chingmeirong area one by one, only to be used as weight bars. After fabrication, he used them in weightlifting. By that time, one S Sunilchandra from Samusang Imphal was the trainer in weightlifting.
In 1953, he participated in the 4th Mr Manipur Contest held at Rupmahal Theatre in Imphal.
Soibam Megha got the title and Irom Lekhendra was in second position. Known as the ‘Tarzan of Manipur’, Irom Lekhendra had been the champion from 1951. Maipak could finish in the third berth. However, in the weightlifting competition, Maipak got first position.
By 1948, he began to explore a game that could identify Manipur to the outside world.
Besides bodybuilding, Oja Maipak was also a renowned athlete in Hammer Throw, Shot Put and Discus throw events. During the national games held at Delhi in 1958, he broke the national records in hammer throw and shot put events on behalf of the Manipur team.
In 1970, Maipak held the title of ‘Mr Assamshri’ at Dwarka competitions. He also won three Gold medals in weightlifting and powerlifting. In the same year, he went to participate in the Mr India contest at Calcutta with Oja Gouramani as Team Manager and N Nabakumar as Coach. After reaching Calcutta, he was asked to represent Assam state. He along with the senior players requested the Arranger, Monotosh Roy to allow him to be in the Manipur Team.
Maipak served as sports officer at the rank of Sub-Inspector in Manipur Police from 1970 to 1973. Afterwards, he worked in the fields and reared animals before being an employee of the state education Department in 1977.
The then chief minister Yangmaso Saiza created a special job for him in the Education Department. Later on, Maipak became the Bodybuilding Coach in the state Sports Department.
The demise of Oja Maipak will not only be a great loss to the bodybuilders of Manipur but will also leave behind a void in Manipur.