MUMBAI – A former state-level bodybuilder and professional gym coach in India has taken to begging outside Vasai Road railway station, after he was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis six months ago, according to local media reports.
Anil Shetty, 67, cannot do odd jobs to earn a living as the condition has affected his joints, making it difficult for him to walk or stand.
Shetty claims that the doctors he consulted have said that his treatment will cost him Rs 2.5 lakh.
Born on August 15, 1950 into a family in Mangalore, Shetty came to Mumbai at the age of 14 after he lost his parents. 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 MidDay.com.
“From this amount, I would send Rs 20 to my siblings back home, and spend Rs 25 in the mess. The remaining money I would spend on my physique.”
On most days, the man 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 (sic).”
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. He stood second.
After his efforts were recognised by the state, he Shetty landed a job at Vijaya Bank’s Churchgate branch. The job offered him a steady income and enough time to pursue his dream.
Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to clinch any top titles after that.
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,” he shares.
Later, he had a fallout with his family.
Then he was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis in his left leg. “I can’t stand for long. My movement is restricted,” he says.
Shetty was forced to take to begging to collect funds after his savings ran dry.
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.