Unforgettable 'Andhra Bhim' Dandamudi

Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao Indoor Stadium in Vijayawada	Photo: Ch Venkata Mastan
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Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao Indoor Stadium in Vijayawada Photo: Ch Venkata Mastan

Highlights

  • The best example of his achievements was that he stood national champion in weightlifting for 13 consecutive years from 1945 to 1958
  • He represented India in the Olympics continuously three times from 1948 to 1956

Vijayawada: Many sportspersons brought laurels to Vijayawada and Andhra Pradesh with their outstanding sporting skills and abilities. But some of them have left very strong impression on the minds of Telugu people. One among them was Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao, the weightlifting champion of yesteryears.

His birth anniversary falls on October 16. The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation Indoor Stadium is named after Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao and it is the biggest and the most important stadium for badminton and table tennis players for several decades.

Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao was popularly known as Andhra Bhima. Dandamudi was well known name among the Telugu people for many decades. He won the Mister Asia award and was the first sports personality from Andhra Pradesh to get recognition internationally in weightlifting.

He won bronze medal in weightlifting in the first Asiad held in Delhi in 1951. He stood in first place in bodybuilding in Asian championship. He represented India in the Olympics continuously three times from 1948 to 1956. He participated in London Olympics in 1948, Finland Olympics in 1952 and Melbourne Olympics in 1956.

Former district Sports Development Officer B Sudhakar said Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao was inspiration to many weightlifters in Andhra Pradesh for some decades. Many national and international talented weightlifters emerged from Andhra Pradesh with the inspiration of Dandamudi.

He was awarded the title of Indian Tarzan. He was the disciple of renowned bodybuilder Kodi Rammurthy Naidu. Later, he honed his skills in weightlifting from Sistla Somayajulu and others. Dandamudi had strong association with film industry too. He donned the role of Bhima in Telugu classic movies Nartanashala. He also acted in Veerabhimanu and Bheemanjaneya Yuddam movies. He is the native of Krishna district and long association with Telugu people and sports lovers.

Badminton, table tennis players, coaches and sports lovers in Vijayawada are familiar with the Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao indoor stadium for several decades. The legendary weightlifter used to practice and hone his skills in Labbipet. The stadium was built near his residence by the VMC. The best example of his achievements was that he stood national champion in weightlifting for 13 consecutive years from 1945 to 1958.

Mumbai Telugu Association president and his close relative Bandlamudi Rammohan said all players and sports lovers must know the history of Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao. He said Dandamudi was the best example how to maintain fitness and work with dedication to emerge national and international champion. He was the first President of Andhra Olympic Association and the captain of Andhra Olympic Team. He was the founder of Andhra Olympic Association.

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