Ex-weightlifter, 81, motivates community

2015-06-03 06:00
Ghanaan Benjamin in his gymnasium at his home in Salsoneville.

Ghanaan Benjamin in his gymnasium at his home in Salsoneville. Photo: ZELDRÉ SWANEPOEL

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HE has been weightlifting since 1951 and he is still actively involved in the sport - providing training and now staging a bodybuilding competition for the community.

Ghanaan Benjamin, 81, from Salsoneville, said the event was open to all body-builders from any gymnasium or club.

“I would also like to encourage parents to get their children involved in any sport. Any youngster involved in sport becomes disciplined. Sport keeps them off the streets.”

As a young boy he was bullied at school, and his older brother suggested he learn to defend himself. “I started with boxing, but I realised that I am too short-tempered for that. So I moved to body-building and then weightlifting.”

Benjamin was chosen to represent Eastern Province from 1955 to 1970. He won the EP title 14 times and the SA six times. The IFBB (International Federation of Body-building and Fitness) has awarded him honorary membership.

In 1972 he started his own gym, which is still running today from Mondays to Saturdays.

“The gym is a body fitness academy. I am passionate about fitness and I am always here to motivate everyone who uses my gym.”

He has witnessed many successes by his patrons - from winning national and international bodybuilding awards to an injured man who has learnt to walk again after working with Benjamin.

Charging just a nominal fee, he said the gym was not about making money, but more about encouraging people to go beyond what they thought they were capable of. “If I can contribute to my community in this way, I don’t see why not.”

Benjamin is also determined to start a sub-union which will raise funds for athletes who are chosen to represent the Eastern Province.

“So many times our athletes are chosen to represent their province but they have to provide their own accommodation and transport and are unable to do so. We need to start this sub-union to assist them and show them we are proud of their achievements.”

The body-building competition takes place at the West End Community Centre at 6pm on Friday, June 5. Admission is R40

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