A Brief Introduction|
Bodybuilding, weightlifting and power lifting are very popular in Afghanistan.
It's not uncommon to find the greats of bodybuilding such as Arnold
Schwarzenegger plastered all over the walls of a body building club in
admire him as he is admired in the west.
Before the Taliban took control of
Kabul, the sport was slowly developing, even though the majority of the athletes
did not have adequate equipment to train on. Many resorted to using making their
own equipment out of scraps of metal, tires, and filling oil drums with cement
to make barbells. Still, many Afghans were free to pursue the sport. In 1993,
tragedy struck the sport as a plane carrying the national bodybuilding team
crashed in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing all 12 team members. A few years later,
things got even worse when the Taliban came on the scene, because the sport was
almost killed off. The Taliban would not allow men to pose in shorts as it is
common in bodybuilding competitions, and they saw it as a waste of time - as they did most if
not all sports. Women were of course not allowed to participate in any type of
sports, especially bodybuilding. One event put together during the Taliban rule
by Bawar Khan Hotak, a well known former wrestler and what many regard as the
"father of modern day Afghan bodybuilding", ended up going badly as the Taliban
put Hotak in jail. They interpreted fan appreciation and praise of the
bodybuilders as idol worshipping.
Today, according to the Afghan National Bodybuilding Federation (ANBBF), which was
created in 1965, there are more than 1,000 gyms nationwide all over the country.
There is even an annual Mr. Afghanistan competition that is held and while there
is still much more development that needs to happen, Afghan bodybuilders aren't
doing that bad in international competitions. While it's dominated by men, there
are women who participate in the sport now as well, and they are more than a
dozen women only gyms. On August 2008, the first female weightlifting
competition was held in Kabul. While most if not all Afghan bodybuilders still have day jobs, as it is hard to
make a living of the sport as it done in the West, many more are looking for
private sponsors. Unfortunately, not much funding is provided by the government.
Just like in the West, illegal supplements and steroids are
also present in Afghanistan. In June 2010, reports came out that Mohammad Arif
Sakhi, the 2010 Mr. Afghanistan had died as result steroids destroying his
organs. However, Bawar Khan Hotak, has said Sakhi's death is not related to
steroids, and instead told the media that he was poisoned by rivals. Hotak does
however agree that there are many Afghan bodybuilders who do cheat and use
steroids and illegal supplements and many of these supplements come from
unreliable sources. Sakhi's death has put a spotlight on the use of steroids by
Afghan bodybuilders. Hopefully, the government gets more involved and implements
a testing system and informs athletes on the harmful effects of steroids.
Steroid use is something the West has been trying to deal with for quite some
time, and now as the sport develops in Afghanistan and as the stakes are
increased, Afghans will need to deal with it as well.
Key Members of Afghanistan's National
Bodybuilding Federation (ANBBF)
||Bawar Khan Hotak
President of ANBBF
Secretary-General of ANBBF
- 1965: Afghan National Bodybuilding Federation (ANBBF) was created.
- 1993: A plane carrying Afghanistan's national bodybuilding team
crashed in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing all 12 team members
- 2004: Controversy erupts after the Mr. Afghanistan competition - title
- 2005: Khosraw Basheri won Mr. Afghanistan competition.
- 2006: Aziz Ahamd Nikyar won Mr. Afghanistan competition.
- 2007: Bodybuilding club for women was inaugurated in Parwan province.
- 2007: Dr. Tamim won Mr. Afghanistan competition.
- 2008: In late August, the first female weightlifting competition was
held in Kabul.
- 2008: Yasin Qaderi became the "Overall Champion of Afghanistan".
- 2009: Shukrullah Shakili won the Mr. Afghanistan competition.
- 2010: Mohammad Arif Sakhi won the Mr. Afghanistan competition.
- 2010 (June) - Mohammad Arif Sakhi - the winner of the 2010 Mr.
Afghanistan competition died.
- 2010: At the 7th South Asian Men's Bodybuilding Championship in
Katmandu, Nepal - Afghan bodybuilders won four silver and five bronze
- 2011 (June) - Afghan bodybuilding team wins the 8th South Asian
Recent Afghan Bodybuilding News
- May 10, 2012: Balkh resident
wins "Mr. Muscles" title.
- June 12, 2011:
Powerlifting competitions begin in Kabul
- June 4, 2011:
Afghans win gold medals at the 8th South Asian Bodybuilding Championships
- May 13, 2011:
Video report from VOA in Dari - Helmandi wins bodybuilding competition.
- April 18, 2011:
Video report from VOA in Dari about a bodybuilding contest that was held in
- February 26, 2011:
New bodybuilding club for Afghan Army
- October 26, 2010:
Afghan bodybuilders to compete in Second World Men's Bodybuilding Championship
- June 22, 2010:
Afghan bodybuilders at the 7th South Asian Men's Bodybuilding Championship in
- June 2, 2009:
Coverage of Mr. Afghanistan 2009 Title
- May 28, 2013: Osman Anwari wins
bronze in European Bodybuilding Chamipionship.