National body must change mindset to attract sponsors, says KL Bodybuilding Federation chief

Kuala Lumpur Bodybuilding Federation president Krishnakumar Kalimuthu has worked hard to build the sport in Malaysia. And he sympathises with the athletes who struggle to earn a decent living.

Krishnakumar, also Gymnasium Entrepreneurs Association Malaysia president, has pumped in money as a sponsor of several bodybuilding competitions in the country.

He says he will continue doing so but added it was time for the Malaysia Body Building Federation (MBBF) to inject new blood and change its mindset to attract corporate sponsorship.

Krishnakumar was responding to Twentytwo13’s article on Nov 16, in which R. Kumareswarren, silver medallist in the Men’s Heavyweight category (up to 100kg) at the recent 14th World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships, said he wished the sport could attract more sponsors.

Kumareswarren admitted he was in a niche sport, but which had contributed to more medals than other, more popular sports like football, hockey, and badminton.

“What Kumareswarren said was spot on. Bodybuilding has brought glory to Malaysia many times over, with the likes of six-time world champion Datuk Syarul Azman Mahen Abdullah, and 10-time Mr Universe winner Sazali Samad,” said Krishnakumar.

“However, MBBF still struggles to attract sponsors. They should make a big show when our athletes return from the World Championships with their medals. Go to the airport to meet them, and invite the media, and the (Youth and Sports) minister.

“They should contact television stations for these champions to go on air to share their journey, and then perhaps, more people will realise how much these athletes had sacrificed to reach their goals.”

Krishnakumar added that MBBF needed to inject new blood into its committees, as they can help boost the federation’s image and push for fresh, new ideas.

He cited the World Fitness Federation (WFF) Malaysia as an example, which is well-run and attracts sponsors easily.

“I have attended their functions and tournaments. Everything about them is professional,” said Krishnakumar.

“There are many corporate sponsors who buy tables for their official dinners – and I am talking about companies with financial muscle.

“One reason for this is that they have young, energetic leaders who go the extra mile to attract sponsors. I wish MBBF could be like them, as clearly, companies do want to get involved.”

Krishnakumar said he was not calling for MBBF’s leaders to step down but rather for the federation to expand its committees to include more financially-savvy officials who can help bring in the funds.

“The current leaders can stay, but it would be good if they opened up more seats for the younger generation to help them,” said Krishnakumar.

“It is about having a succession plan.”

He said if MBBF could secure additional funding, it would be able to host more tournaments and attract a larger pool of talented athletes.

“We only sent 10 athletes to the recent World Championships. Our neighbours Thailand and Vietnam usually send between 50 and 80. India had nearly 100 athletes,” said Krishnakumar.

“The problem is, we do not have a big pool of national athletes. Also, women are sometimes sidelined, as certain states may not allow them to compete if they hosted the Mr Malaysia competition.

“It can demoralise the women, and many give up. If states do not want women to compete, then MBBF should hold a competition for them in Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere, and they can go collect their prizes at the event.”

Krishnakumar said he hoped MBBF will take his suggestions in the right spirit, as that is the way forward for the sport to grow.