Looking for Parsi Body Builders / Strong men

Let me also  take  a moment to introduce myself.
I am working in the History Department of the SNDT College and am working on a project for the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute on Parsi Physical Culture Clubs in Bombay.
I am looking at Parsi body builders, strong men, athletes and wrestlers as well as some of the institutions that they had founded in the early twentieth century. I am particularly interested in the career of Tehmsap Sarkari (who also founded a physical culture home which was certainly functional upto 1949) and B.C. Guzder who founded the Guzder Health Home. [References to both these men are found in Darukhanawala Parsis and Sports]. However I haven’t been able to track the exact location of these institutes or even find any information about these remarkable men despite  my scouring of archival material both in Gujarati and in English.
I’m also interested in the history of the Marker’s Health Home and have spoken to some old timers and got some information. I have also had some success with the Petit Gymnastic Institute on which there is much material in the State Archives and newspapers. So broadly I am looking at recovering the histories of Parsi physical culturists and institutions,  which have not been documented in detail in the existing community histories.
I was hoping if I could receive any help or insight in this regard.
Thank you.
Best Regards,
Namrata Ganneri <namgan@gmail.com>


  • Hi , I happened to be going to Mr Sarkari’s gym for a month or two when I was in school in Mumbai – maybe in the year 1972 or 3. The gym was located in Zoroastrian compound ( popularly known as – chikkal wadi) at Tardeo road. If I remember correctly it was on 1st floor and he was also staying there with his wife – Tehmi (if i recall her name correctly) and two sausage dogs. He was a very kind person and would even allow economically weak Parsi boys to work out at subsidised rates. I guess he would be around 90 years then. I along with my friend had helped him paint his gym equipments. He had got paint and brushes at his cost and we assisted in the painting. In return he treated us boys with a sumptuous egg breakfast with cheese, butter and jam after gym hours. He also shared his photo album and I distinctly remember one picture of him pulling a 3 ton truck with a rope. His wife too was as athletic and had performed a similar feat.

    This us all that I remember. Hope this helps.

    Regards- Nauzer Batha/ Pune

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    • Thank you Nauzer Batha for sharing your wonderful memory of of Mr. Sarkari. I was wondering if you have any old photograph of the place / the gym on you.
      Is it also possible to call you sometime?
      Thanks a lot.

  • Kersi Bhiwandiwalla

    I’m aware of a Mr. Dinshaw Mistry of Bandra /Dadar , Bombay. He performed feats of strength in the forties and fifties, notably lifting an automobile by his teeth. He has long since passed but am aware that one of his sons lives in Queens NY. I will forward your number to him if you desire.

    Sent from my iPhone (703) 675 0862


    • Thank you Kersi Bhiwandiwala for your extremely important comment and lead.
      In fact I also had the DB Mistry physical culture Institute as part of my research but had absolutely no leads. So this information is most useful.
      I will be very happy to have Mr. Mistry’s son’s number. Please share it with me.
      Thank you very much.

      • Dear Mr. Bhiwandiwalla,
        Gentle reminder to share Mr. Mistry’s son’s number. Thank you.

    • Request you to share Mr. Mistry’s son’s number with me.
      Thank you. Namrata

      • Mr. Ganneri, I am Kersi Bhiwandiwalla’s son Tim. Please be aware that dad’s silence wasn’t intentional. Unfortunately Dad passed away just days after reaching out to you.

  • As a student of judo and being state champion going to compete in ensuing Nationals, Mr. Tehmurasp Sarkari — being a Managing Committee Member of the Bombay Judo Association, invited me to his famous Gymnasium to train for the National Judo Champions. An excellent Parsi — nature-wise and physique-wise.
    There are so many things I know about him; we could meet & talk.

    • Thank you Mr Talati for sharing your memories of Mr. Sarkari.
      Could you please share your email/ telephone number so that I could get in touch with you.
      Thank you.
      # 9619844082

  • Namrata Ganneri

    I would like to thank Mr. Yazdi Tantra for posting my request for information about Parsi body builders and physical culture institutes on his blog.
    Many responded here, several others wrote to me on my personal email, from all across the world-Spain, Canada, USA, etc. I could communicate on the phone, whatsapp and made several important discoveries. The research benefited greatly from this snowball effect, where one sportsman spoke about his peers and colleagues and hence I managed to reach out and interview several people. I thank each one of respondents and interviewees.

    I have completed my work and want to acknowledge the stupendously important role that Zoroastrians.net has performed for me. Thank you.

    I’d also like to invite all of you to my lecture at Cama entitled
    ‘Lost Worlds’: Parsi Cultures and Strongmen in twentieth Century Bombay
    on 14th March at 6 p.m. at the K.R.Cama Oriental Institute, Lion Gate, Bombay.

  • I chanced upon your comment Tim, I am so sorry to hear about your father, Mr Kersi Bhiwandiwalla. My deepest condolences. As I recall, I had tried calling the number as well but I couldn’t reach him.

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