Your circumstances don’t determine your destiny, your focus and hard work does. Premchand Degra was born to a farmer family in Babri Nangal village in Gurdaspur district of Punjab in1955. Growing up with limited resources and almost no exposure to the sport of bodybuilding, he had never in his dreams thought that he would one day rewrite the destiny and future course of Indian bodybuilding and become the most successful Indian bodybuilder ever.
Degra entered the world of sports by starting with wrestling after completing the tenth grade. It was only 7 years later in 1973 that he found his calling in the sport of bodybuilding..
While there was still a massive dearth of equipments and bodybuilding coaches at that time, Degra drew inspiration from his guru Brahmbhatt Bhanot, the legendary Manohar Aich, India’s first Mr. Universe, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On 14th August 1980, Degra won his first title –overall championship in Punjab State, after which began an influx of numerous domestic titles.
His real claim to fame and world titles started in 1983. He clutched Mr. Asia 1983 (Lahore – Pakistan), Mr. Asia 1984 (Seoul – Korea), Mr. Asia 1985 (Singapore), Mr. Asia 1986 (Taipei – Taiwan), Mr. Asia 1987 (Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia), Gold in Pro-Am Classic in 1990 and 1991 (Singapore), Mr. Asia 1996 (New Delhi – India)..
Degra shocked the bodybuilding world by jumping 10 positions –from the 14th rank at the world title in 1984 to the 4th place in Mr. Universe 1985, and brought home the award for the most improved bodybuilder. Then came the most awaited title for every bodybuilder in the world – Mr. Universe. He won Silver in the Mr. Universe contest at Tokyo in 1986, secured 4th place at Madrid (Spain) in 1987, and was finally crowned 1988 Mr. Universe in Australia after winning a Gold in Middle-Weight class.
His international wins first earned him the Arjuna Award in 1986 –for outstanding achievement in National sports – and then a Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, in 1990. Degra till date remains the only bodybuilder in the history of Indian bodybuiling to be awarded these two prestigious awards.
Degra is now 60 years old, and owns a world-class gym in the city of Hoshiarpur, Punjab. He still remains one of the most inspiring figures in the Indian bodybuilding scene.
The Legacy Of Premchand Degra, The Most Iconic Indian Bodybuilder Ever, Is Awe-Inspiring