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Indian Hercules


Kodi Ramamurthy Naidu (1882-1942).

Imagine a person stopping two cars using his muscle power or taking an elephant on his chest. The very thought would send a chill down anybody's spine. But it was child's play for 'Kaliyuga Bhima' Kodi Ramamurthy Naidu.

He impressed not only national leaders and British officers in India but also King George and Queen Mary at their Buckingham Palace.

Born at Veeraghattam in April 1882, Ramamurthy surprised everyone by roaming the streets in Vizianagaram with a tiger cub in his childhood. He had no inclination towards studies, which earned him the wrath of his father, Venkanna. Fleeing home Ramamurthy reached the forests. He returned to the town after a week along with a tiger cub.

He lost his mother in his childhood and used to quarrel with his friends over trivial issues. Vexed with his behaviour, his father sent him to his (Venkanna's) brother Kodi Narayana Swamy, who was a police inspector at Vizianagaram, for higher studies.

Ramamurthy was attracted towards the freedom movement through B. Chandrayya Naidu, who used to organise the tribal youth against the British rulers.

While at Vizianagaram, Rammurthy joined a fitness centre to tone his muscles and learnt wrestling. His uncle Narayana Swamy sent him to a fitness centre in Madras. On completion of the one-year training course, he returned to Vizianagaram and joined as a physical training instructor at the high school.

He started a circus company with the help of his friend, Potti Panthulu, in Vizianagaram. His feats attracted people all over the country. He used to break an iron chain tied to his body by taking a deep breath and flexing his muscles. Iron chains would be tied to his shoulders and the other ends were tied to two cars. The cars refused to budge even an inch though their drivers depressed the accelerators fully. He took an elephant on his chest and held it for five minutes leaving everyone dumbstruck. People used to gather in large numbers to watch his feats.

The then Viceroy, Lord Minto, had a feel of Ramamurthy's strength, when Minto tried to drive his car with Rammurthy holding it back with iron chains. His fame spread across the length and breadth of the country after the incident.

He demonstrated his skills at the Indian National Congress meeting in Allahabad. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya encouraged him to perform his feats abroad. His circus troupe went to London to give performances there.

The then King and Queen of England, George and Mary, were impressed with his feats and gave him the title "Indian Hercules". He was the first Indian to be so honoured by the royal couple.

He also performed in France, Germany and Spain. While in Spain, he took on a bull by its horns and threw it to the ground though he had no experience in bull- fights. He earned crores of rupees through his circus company but spent a large amount of his wealth on charity and for the Freedom movement.

A boil grew on his leg and it had to be removed through surgery. He refused to take anaesthesia during the surgery. He overcame the pain by virtue of his yogic practices.

The statue of this `Kaliyuga Bhima' from north Andhra, who has brought glory to India all over the world, is erected on Beach Road.

B.M.G.

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