Ramamurthy Naidu, the strongman from Andhra who awed King George V

Throughout the course of human history there have been folk tales as well as recorded incidents of people who displayed incredible strength. Every country and every culture in the world has stories about its own strongmen who pulled off phenomenal feats of strength.

In mythology there are stories of many strongmen like Hercules, Samson and Bhima but even if we take only examples of real life people some tales are truly astonishing.

In ancient Greece

In ancient Greece there existed a man named Milo of Croton who lived in Magna Graecia. He used to take part in the ancient Olympic Games and had won the wrestling championship six times. His existence and his feats have been written about by many reputed men such as Aristotle and Herodotus among others.

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King George V

Among many amazing feats, his own favourite was to lift a full grown cow on his shoulders and then walk around the entire stadium carrying the animal on his back.

In modern day Canada

From 1863 to 1912 there lived in Canada a man named Louis Cyr who could lift more than 200 kg with one finger. According to Ben Weider, the well known founder of the International Federation of Bodybuilders, the organisation that conducts bodybuilding all over the world, Cyr was the strongest man who ever lived. At the age of 20 Cyr became a police officer but later took up professional wrestling and weightlifting with great success.

In pre-independence India

In India the strongest men have usually come out of Punjab. One such was the Great Gama whose strength was legendary. But in the Andhra region too there was a man named Kodi Ramamurthy Naidu who could match the strongest men anywhere in the land. His name has been spelled in different ways like Ram Murti Naidu or Rammurthy but they all refer to the same man.

He was awe inspiring

He was born in 1882 or 1883 in Srikakulam district and passed away in 1942. He lived when India was under the British Raj but even British army officers and soldiers were in awe of him.

It is said that he could stand in the middle of two cars pointing in opposite directions and then prevent the cars from moving away by holding them back with his hands. He was honoured with the title of “The Indian Hercules” by none other than King George V, the monarch of Great Britain at that time.

Mother died when he was a child

Naidu’s mother died when he was a mere child. After that his father Venkanna, lavished a lot of care upon the child. But later, when he showed no inclination to study and neglected his academic work, his father became vexed with the boy and sent him away to live with his uncle in Vizianagaram.

The uncle was a police officer and he introduced the growing boy to a fitness cum wrestling club and the teenager developed a love for wrestling. Soon he established himself in the sport and became famous throughout the region. Thereafter, he formed a circus company and displayed his feats of strength.

Demonstrated his strength to INC

Naidu demonstrated his strength at a meeting of the Indian National Congress thereby impressing many of the nation’s leading political figures. INC President Madan Mohan Malaviya was so impressed that he sponsored a trip for Naidu and a few others to London where they could show off their feats to the British men and women. It was during this trip that King George V saw his display at Buckingham Palace and gave him the title of Indian Hercules.

Naidu also became a teacher of physical education and trained other youths to develop strength and fitness. While several of his students also achieved some success, none reached the heights that Naidu did. Apparently that kind of strength is gifted by God and cannot be obtained despite hard work.

He passed away during the time of Sankranti in 1942 in Odisha where he was staying at the time. After his passing, a stadium in Srikakulam was named after him – the Kodi Ramamurthy stadium – which still stands today as a memorial to his outstanding feats.

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