Melbourne-based Roney Singh is pretty sure he is going to smash the Mr Universe body building competition to be held later in June in Brazil
There is a story behind Roney Singh’s ambition to become the world’s No 1 body builder. Of course there is ambition, determination but there is also a story of loss, tragedy and resilience that are his driving force. In the late 1980s when the state of Punjab in northern India was slowly coming to its fag end of insurgency, Roney was two months old but militants knocked on the door of his house and shot dead his father, a policeman. His mother was instantly widowed with four small children to look after. Roney missed a father figure in his life, his paternal uncles had also usurped the family property, and the family’s financial status was not very good. At the age of 12 he started farming and in his free time dabbled in wrestling and a game of kabaddi. By the time he was 20 he had stretched to a good 6 ft 2 inch frame and enjoyed sports. He wanted to do well in it.
But he was hanging out with a lot of the adults in the village some of whom were into drinking and so Roney’s family got him married thinking this would give him bigger sense of responsibility in life. It was also a time when many of his friends were going to Australia to study. Through the help of his father-in-law, Roney and his wife Amarinder came to Australia in 2006 to study commercial cookery. Once here he worked very hard and tried to keep his love for sports alive playing kabaddi for the Singh Sabha Sports Club in Melbourne. He found a good friend in Nipender Singh (Nippy), who was captain of the basketball in the annual Australian Sikh Games. At the behest of Nippy, Roney tried weight lifting and realised he was quite good at it. Unfortunately, he suffered an accident injuring his knee cap that made him almost sedentary for 18 months.
From weighing 135 kg, he ballooned to 145 kg. But it was Nippy again who brought Roney out of his despondency urging him to try body building as he had the potential for it. In January 2013, “I gave it a thought and for the next six months, I dieted, trained hard while working simultaneously in the security department of Crown Casino.” His shift ran from 6 pm to 6 am and at 6:30 he would hit the gym, come back, sleep for a few hours and then go back to work. “At times I felt like crying thinking I am struggling so much but never gave up.” In nine weeks, he dropped 35 kilos and his body was shaping up.
Through sheer luck he got in touch with the International Bodybuilders & Fitness Association (IBFA), India, and was invited to participate. To cut a long story short, Roney was announced the winner of the Mr India Body Building competition. “It was a dream come true,” he says. The prize money was a bike or a week-long trip to Rome to participate in the Mr Europe contest organised by IBFA. Of course, he chose the latter where he was No 4 in the Mr Fashion beach body category and No 1 under Mr Fashion Tall Class. Overall he was judged No 7. “I was the youngest, some of the participants were 40-year olds with very mature muscles but I came back extremely elated with my performance and that two after precisely only six months of rigorous training.”
Through 2014 and 15 Roney did a lot of training and put on 15 kilo muscle mass. Last April, he won the Sports Model (Tall) category of Kahma Classic 2016, earning him a pro card or the license to participate in any event nationally or internationally. At the Tasmania Classic this April, he came second in the open weight category of 100 kg and above. From competing in the 65 kg category he has come a long way competing in the toughest category. The Tasmania Classic competition acts as a qualifier for the WFF Universe 2017 to be held in Brazil in June.
Right now his sights are set for the Mr Universe competition to be held in Brazil. For someone who could not run even one km, Roney has come a long way. If you have to make something out of yourself in life, you have to sacrifice and work hard, he believes. Earning a name is also a tribute to a father he never saw. In conversation with Roney Singh.
What is your training like in the run up to the Mr Universe contest?
I train three times. I work weekends at the Crown and I also do personal training. In between that I take out time to train three times for one hour during the day. I start at 7 am, then at 1 pm and then in the evening around 6 pm. My training regime includes weight training and cardio. As the days draw closer, we need to look different. So I am conditioning my body, to look more ribbed by bringing the body fat down to three percent.
I have toughened my mind and training hard. So no parties or social activities. I train on my muscles and have a low calorie diet. But you have to note that I am eating 6-7 times a day. So even if I am eating 250 grams of chicken that many times, it is about 2 kg of chicken everyday along with green vegetables. On top of that I am having protein shakes, eggs. So that is a lot of food to work on. But when your body fat is down and you have a good metabolism, you do feel like a superman. You are active and this is a game about metabolism. When I finish my training, do my posing and check my abs, the muscles feel good and you see the results. The Mr Universe 2017 will be my second attempt. In 2013, I was placed 7th from among 30 competitors. This time I am confident I will smash it.
What is your diet like?
To bring the body fat down, we drop all the good fats and other fats and stick to high protein diet. Breakfast is about ten white eggs and a shake of protein, I have a few multivitamin tablets. Every two-three hours I take 250 grams of chicken along with green vegetables. After my last training session of the day I have a protein shake straightaway and when I get back home before bed I have lean beef 250-300 kg with a big plate of salad. In all, I have six-seven meals a day. Besides that I take protein, glutamine, creatine, Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), fish oil pills, multi vitamins, to name a few.
What attracts you to the sport?
I have been into this sport since 2013 and I have learnt almost everything that I need to know about the sport. My body is used to it now and I know how to get the results, that is why I am attracted to this sport. Yes this is a very tough sport. You have to compromise on so many things. Many a times I have to give up social events as they come with the temptations to eat. So for the period that you train and compete you have to give up on a lot of things. The more you train, the more chances for winning. So if the mind is set upon winning, a lot of sacrifices come along the way.
Last year when I won the Kahma Classic, I got sponsored by Supps 247, well-known name in the fitness world and created with an enthusiasm and target to deliver the premium quality sports supplements. They are looking after my diets, supplements and even my travel such as flights. This year I got contract with another company called Top Athlete. So both Supps 247 and Top Athlete are taking care of my needs and I am not stressed about how I am going to run my house as they are paying for my preparations.
What is your favourite body part to train?
We have to showcase every part of the body. Body building is a game where every muscle has to be worked on. But my favourite exercise is my legs; they are like the bully body part though you have to focus on every part of your body.
What is your fitness tip to others?
You have to eat healthy. I am not saying you have to go train vigorously like body builders do but a bit of cardio exercise is good to stay fit.
Any fitness influence?
Roney Coleman is my hero. He is the winner of the Mr Olympia bodybuilding title for eight years in a row, and is regarded as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.
What is your ultimate goal in life?
Whatever I am doing is for my family and my community. There are not many of us in body building, though there are some now in the lower weight categories. I want to make a name so that I can inspire others. I feel proud of what I have achieved so far and I get the respect wherever I go. I am very busy, I work full time as a trainer conducting about 50 sessions a week. I feel happy to help people from my community who are not very comfortable training with an English-speaking coach. I want to spread the message that more and more people from our community should come out and take part in this sport as we have the potential to do well.
I want to start a business and expand in the field of personal training which I am currently involved with full time. I am looking forward to open a supplements store.
(As told to Indira Laisram)