Wed, May 29, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan’s oldest bodybuilder tells story of sport’s development over 40 years

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Bodybuilding coach Huang A-wen, 66, shows off his physique in Taipei in an undated photograph.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan’s oldest bodybuilder, Huang A-wen (黃阿文), nicknamed “Monster Grandpa,” has had a career spanning four decades, which is virtually a history of the sport in Taiwan.

The 66-year-old works as a bodybuilding coach and writes for the US-based Bodybuilding.com as its only Taiwanese contributor. He also appeared on television alongside octogenarian bodybuilder Jim Arrington of California in 2014.

He became aware of bodybuilding during its early years in Taiwan, Huang said, adding that contests were held infrequently near the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

Later, he and a friend from high school went to a bodybuilding contest organized by a club for US military personnel at the Zhongshan Soccer Stadium, he said.

“I figured out what bodybuilding was when watching that event,” he said.

He decided to become a bodybuilder, but soon found that finding information about the sport was a struggle against press censorship.

“People had trouble finding magazines that bore images of women in bikinis and bodybuilding magazines were a big no-no,” he said. “People interested in the sport had to borrow or share the few rare copies they had.”

Finding gym equipment was also difficult and bodybuilding enthusiasts had to make do with what they could build in their backyard, Huang said.

“We poured concrete into tires and stuck a bamboo pole through them for dumbbells; for protein supplement, we ate soybeans and eggs, because there were no protein shakes like those available today,” he said.

During college, he joined a weightlifting and bodybuilding club and obtained formal training, but people made fun of him, Huang said.

“A common jibe was how the large chest muscles I had were going to sag in my old age,” Huang said. “The joke is on them, though, I am pretty sure the people who made fun of me are the ones sagging now.”

After completing his mandatory military service, Huang found an administrative job at a school and trained at night, putting himself through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, and eventually rose to become one of the nation’s leading bodybuilders in international contests.

Although retired, Huang runs a gym and continues to exercise, which has become a way of life for him.

“Your body becomes what you have done for it,” he said, adding that exercise, morning fruit shakes and three protein-rich meals a day of chicken, beef and eggs have helped him maintain a powerful physique.

He advised young people who want to get into shape to start working out, as there are no shortcuts or secrets to building muscles, except hard work, Huang said.

“Old people, myself included, would do well to stop reminiscing about the strong body and energy of our youths and start exercising right now, especially starting from the legs,” he said. “A few leg exercises while watching TV goes a long way in keeping yourself mobile and making you happier.”

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