The Incredible Journey of Dr. Ngangbam Meetei:
INBA Asia President, Hall of Famer, Bodybuilding Champion and Role Model
Interview by Eric Lipton
Dr. Ngangbam Meetei is an INBA PNBA Champion Bodybuilder who has achieved great success in life against significant odds. The 54-year-old highlighted a phenomenal bodybuilding career last year by winning the highly competitive Professional Grand Masters division at the 2017 Natural Olympia, followed by being inducted into the INBA Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame! Meetei is also highly successful off the stage. He is the INBA Asia President, works as an English professor in Taiwan, and is a father of four children. Meetei achieved all of this after growing up in poverty and shares his life and the mindset, which has helped him to achieve so much!
Meetei, you have had an amazing journey, can you tell us about your background and family.
I am from Kangleipak/Manipur, a small sovereign kingdom which became Manipur under the Indian Constitution in 1949. I was the last child among 10 siblings to my illiterate parents, who were peasants working for other farm owners. Out of the 10 siblings, 2 elder brothers and 1 elder sister died out of poverty and malnutrition. I got married in 1996 to a Chinese wife, Chen Nan-Tai, and became a citizen of Taiwan after settling here since 1997. I got my Taiwan citizenship in 2002. Now, I have two daughters and two sons with my wife. My first daughter is 21, my first son is 19, my second daughter is 13 and my last son is 11. We all live in Tucheng District, New Taipei City, Taiwan, R.O.C.
You have had an amazing journey and achieved much in life! Can you describe your career and educational background?
I work as an English Professor at the Hungkuo Delin University of Technology, in Taipei City. I have been teaching here since 2000. I completed my Bachelors as an English major at DM College of Arts and Commerce, which is a university now in Kngleipak/Manipur. I finished my Bachelors of Arts in 1989, took and passed the national test, and was admitted at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Here, I completed my Masters of arts in philosophy, and then Ph. D. in Linguistics. I finished my Ph.D. in 1998 and got my degree in 1999.
Tremendous accomplishments, any other background info you want to give?
I love both my home state, Kangleipak, as well as my adopted country, Taiwan. So I always try to contribute anything I can, especially to my poor state Kangleipak. That is why I organized the first “Legendary Mr. Maipak and Dr. Nangbam Meetei National Level Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship” last year in Kangleipak. It was really a grand success, attended by more than 100 natural athletes from all over India, including Shodhan Rai from Bangalore. Not only that, I also always share the importance of education and natural sports for overall personal development when I am invited for radio, TV, giving speeches, or for interviews in magazines and newspapers when I visit my home state. I also love to share my experiences with my people, especially students and young people, and to help poor and homeless people, whom I visit from time to time. I also love older people.
You are amazing, and it gives a glimpse into your contribution to the world! I want to congratulate you on being inducted into the INBA Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame! Can you tell us what it means to you?
I consider the Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame as the highest honor the INBA PNBA organization offers to people of different backgrounds. So, it gives me the authority to tell people about the importance of natural bodybuilding, natural fitness sports, and the INBA PNBA. It gives me the strength and the confidence to tell people that I am somebody who has the authority to talk about why people must go natural. It gives me the strength and power needed to promote and expand INBA PNBA in Asia through natural shows of different levels. It gives me the authority to talk about INBA/PNBA as the best tested fitness organization on the planet. These are just some of the most important points about how I feel being inducted in the Hall of Fame, there are many more.
Tell us about your competition history, when and how did you start competing, and what are some of the highlights of your career?
I started competing pretty late, I was in my early twenties during my last year of college life. Some of the most important winnings of my life would be Mr. Asia in 1999 (amateur open 60 kg. and below group); Mr. World in 2013, masters, second place (amateur open short class), Zakynthos, Greece; and Mr. World Cup gold medals in 2014 in open men and masters, as well as overall men and overall masters amateur in Los Angeles. Then, one week later in San Diego, I won the masters and was second in the open short class amateur, just next to Peter Hartwig who won the overall in the amateur. I also won third place in the professional masters division at the 2014 Natural Olympia. In 2016, I won the pro masters at the Natural Universe, and I also won the amateur classic physique division. I the same year, I won the pro Natural Olympia in the masters division in Las Vegas. Last year, I again won the pro grand masters division at the twentieth Natural Olympia.
How would you describe yourself as a competitor and what are your strong points?
Some of my strong points as a competitor can be put as having a positive, self-confident, and friendly attitude towards myself and to others. Physically, I am blessed with a well-balanced and proportionate body, my very symmetrical abs, well shaped swipe of the thighs, wide shoulders with small waistline, and a wide back to add other strong points.
Congratulations on winning the PNBA Grand Masters division title at the 2017 Natural Olympia! How did you get in such great condition for the show?
I had limited time of only two months after I came back from India after hosting the first INBA natural show, but I wisely used my time, took dieting seriously, and trained hard with cardio almost every day. Even after the 2017 World Cup in Glendale, CA I was still training hard and did my cardio non-stop until the day prior to the Natural Olympia on Nov. 11, 2017.
That focused strategy worked very well. Can you tell us about the style of training you use?
I love training single, as my university teaching schedule doesn’t allow me to train with others. The other point is, I like to train single because it allows me to follow my own pace according to my strength, mood, space, and available time on my hands. About training, I take proper warm-up and stretching as important as training, as these can enhance muscle recovery, development, and protect from injuries. So I never miss a warm-up of 7 to 10 minutes and another 10 minutes stretching at the end of my training. About frequency, I do about five days when I try to gain some muscle strength and size. But during the contest preparation, about 3 to 4 months, I increase the frequency to 6 to 10 times a week. This helps me in burning the fat and bringing hardness and cuts. About the range of repetitions and sets, I keep mostly between 6 to 16 repetitions and 4 to 6 sets. I train one big body part and another smaller one, like back and biceps or chest and triceps. After training my limbs, I do two to three different abdominal exercises. I also add cardiovascular exercises, like a 15-degree treadmill fast walk or step ups for about 30 to 45 minutes, four to five times a week.
Please describe your diet.
My diet is simple. I mostly eat chicken breast, white fish like tilapia and white eggs. I hardly eat beef, as it’s too expensive. I eat a lot of vegetables, especially green ones. Among the supplements I focus on are protein powder, BCAA sometimes, glutamine and multivitamins, glucosamine, and fish oil capsules.
You are also President of INBA Global Asia, what is your vision for INBA in Asia?
I am humble and lucky to be trusted by our founder and World President, Denny Kakos, for giving me this highly responsible position, which I take very seriously. My vision is to expand INBA PNBA all over Asia, which we have already started. Now, we already have INBA officials in Taiwan, Korea, India, Japan, and Hong Kong. China will soon as well, by this year or next year. I love to see INBA PNBA expanding all over Asia, and to see the natural athletes compete and shine on the natural stages free from drugs. I have big dreams, and they will be accomplished for sure.
That is fantastic! You are certainly the right person for this job, and you are highly accomplished in multiple areas! How do you balance family, work, your INBA position, and bodybuilding?
It all depends on our thinking and attitude, the way we look at things, what we give priority to, and what we do. Once we have the right attitude and know and have our priorities, we can do many things by dividing our available time and use it properly. In my own life, first I look at things which I think are important, then give them my priority, then divide my time for all the things I want to do. Thus, I give my priority to my family- my wife and kids and family chores, my job, training, competitions and social activities. I also manage to have fun with my family once things are done or accomplished. We all have 24 hours a day. But how we use them depends on our attitudes.
That is a great advice and it has allowed to achieve so much! What are your life goals and what do you want your legacy to be?
I feel I have achieved most of my life goals, like to have a beautiful family, wonderful children, a good job as a professor, many sports world championship titles as a natural athlete, and other honors presented to me. These include Lion of Kangleipak/Manipur, International Irabot Award, The Light of Taiwan, The Great Son of Kangleipak/Manipur, Good Leadership Award, Excellent Award, and the Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. But there are still bigger dreams to be achieved and accomplished. As the trusted President of INBA Asia, I would like to take the responsibility to promote and expand INBA/PNBA Empire all over Asia, which is going on. Through this effort, I’d like to take the opportunity to guide people to be healthy through proper and regular exercise and natural diets. I’d like them to be natural athletes, follow a healthy lifestyle, and also have visions and dreams to be a good human and champion. Besides these, I also like to contribute something to my homeland Kangleipak. This beautiful paradise has been spoiled and I’d like to do something to clean up this mess with other like-minded people and bring back her lost paradise, the beautiful past.
About my legacy, I can’t say how people will think of me in the future. But truth lasts forever I believe. I would like to leave a legacy which can inspire, motivate, teach all generations to come that the most important possession they must try to have first is having a healthy body and mind through proper exercises and healthy diet. Without health, they can’t enjoy life fully. I would like to tell future generations to be honest, humble, respect others, be positive, listen to their conscience, be hardworking, use time properly, be responsible, have visions, and dream bigger. These are the things I follow in my own life.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like young people to be healthy, and keep sports and education together. Be healthy, be a champion, but still be a good student. Many people cannot keep these two things together, mainly because of their thinking. My whole life and still today, I keep these two disciplines together. I won many championships in sports during my student life and studied in the number one college and best university. I was raised as the number 10 child in an illiterate, poverty-stricken family who couldn’t afford two descent meals a day. My parents never went to school. They were peasants who never had any farmland, so they only worked for other farm owners to feed themselves and raise their 10 children. I had nothing except my hard working parents and my siblings. But my parents instilled in me the sense of hard work, to be honest, and to be positive. If someone coming from such a poor background can do it, why not today’s young generations? Their life is much, much better than mine used to be. Life is short, don’t waste your life and make it even shorter using unhealthy, banned, illegal substances in the name of sports and for the sake of some medals or titles. Life is short, use your time properly. Finally, be humble, be positive, respect and help others, have visions and have bigger dreams. Wish you all the best.
Thank you very much Meetei, what a powerful message! You are clearly making a difference in the world and you are a great role model, on and off the stage.