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True son of the Soil by Rishir (4th grade) and Hansika (9th grade), Ellicott City, Maryland, USA


Weightlifting, a dynamic and powerful strength sport, plays a crucial role in influencing people for a healthier lifestyle and promotes a culture of fitness. Weightlifting is an incredibly difficult sport and the challenges go beyond strength training. Dandamudi Rajagopal is a legendary weightlifter of India and accomplished many titles and awards beyond imaginable. Dandamudi Rajagopal was born on October 16, 1916 in a village of farmers. His height was 5 ft 10in and was around 105kgs. RajaGopala was married to Anasuya. They had 5 children Jhansi Lakshmi Bai, Poorna Chandra Rao, Shyam Sunder, Basava Raju and Vijayalakshmi. Dandamudi Rajagopal’s passion for weightlifting was sparked by the Indian bodybuilder, Kodi Rammurthy Naidu. Because he grew up in agricultural areas, he helped his community and improved his strength at the same time. He had a special connection between his strength and his homeland, and his power was unbelievable! Dandamudi Rajagopal was a multi-talented person, he was a bodybuilder, weightlifter, philanthropist and a movie artist.

The Multi-Talented

Bodybuilder: Growing up in the rural areas, helping out in agricultural activities, pulling tractors with his teeth, lifting rice bags and stones, Dandamudi Rajagopal easily obtained a six pack. Dandamudi was a disciple of renowned bodybuilder Kodi Rammurthy Naidu. Dandamudi is the first Indian to receive the Mr. Asia title. He won the title in 1948 at Calcutta in Asian bodybuilding competition. He stood first place in bodybuilding in Asian championship.

Weightlifter: The sheer strength made him a perfect candidate for weightlifting. He honed his skills in weightlifting from Sistla Somayajulu and others. He was the first sports personality from Andhra Pradesh to get recognition internationally in weightlifting. Many national and international talented weightlifters emerged from Andhra Pradesh with the inspiration of Dandamudi Rajagopal Rao.

Philanthropist: Dandamudi Rajagopal Rao donated 1 acre of land on M.G. Road to the government to build a stadium to promote good health, good habits among youngsters and for the welfare of Sportsmen. As a continuation of his philanthropic activities, his family members are planning to float a trust in the name of his illustrious father to help the up and coming weightlifters. He established a free gymnasia, named Dr. Gopal Institute at many places in Krishna district to coach youngsters. He was a good coach too. Arjuna award winner Kamineni Eswara Rao is trained by Dandamudi in weightlifting. Rajagopala was the founder of Andhra Olympic Association and several other sports associations in Andhra Pradesh. Former district Sports Development Officer B Sudhakar said Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao was an 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. Badminton, table tennis players, coaches and sports lovers in Vijayawada are familiar with the Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao indoor stadium for several decades. 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 of how to maintain fitness and work with dedication to emerge national and international champion.

Movie Artist: Dandamudi had a strong association with the film industry. The most notable performance was in Narthanasala 1963, where in it he portrayed the role of Bheema. His film Narthanasala won best film in Indonesian film festival. He also acted in Bheemanjaneya Yuddham and Veera Abhimanyu. Dandamudi acted along stalwarts like Dr. N.T.Rama Rao, Shoban Babu, S.V.Ranga Rao, and Kantha Rao.

The Famous Titles of Dandamudi Rajagopal Rao:

  • Indian Tarzan

  • Andhra Bhima

  • Mr. Asia

  • Andhra Hercules

  • The Giant Of India


Dandamudi Rajagopal accomplished numerous 1rst place positions in competitions and won many titles. He won:

  • The 1st Indian Weightlifting Champion and held the title for 13 consecutive years

  • 1st place in XII Olympic Sports Event of India in 1946

  • Annexed Kerala title and the Bombay provincial honors in 1944

  • Represented India in International competitions held in Burma, 1947

  • Won Bronze medal in 1951 Asian Games held in New Delhi in Weightlifting

  • Mr. Asia title in 1948 at Calcutta in Asian bodybuilding competition

  • 3 times Olympian from Krishna District

  • 16th rank in final standings in London Olympics, 9th rank in Melbourne Olympics and 11th place in Finland Olympics

  • The first person from Andhra Pradesh who participated in Commonwealth games

  • Won a gold medal in Indian Olympics games held at Delhi in 1952, lifted 780 pounds in the Heavyweight Category.

  • In 1954 Indian Olympics, he won gold medal and established three records

  • Won bronze medal in Asian games held at New Delhi in weightlifting

Raja Gopala’s Breathtaking Feats:

  • Attracted viewers all over the country as he used to break iron chains tied to his body by taking a deep breath and flexing his muscles.

  • Stopped an Ambassador car from moving with his bare hands and lifted up a bullock cart with ease.

The Emotionally Strong

How difficult weightlifting is: Weightlifting is difficult not only because it requires a lot of physical strength but lots of mental and emotional strength as well. To be a successful weightlifter, one must have lots of self effort, mental toughness, accepting responsibility, and TONS of patience because it is a slow process. To have resilience to accept guaranteed failures and setbacks, perseverance against challenges, hyper focus in training and competition, patience to deal with failures, not letting the stress take control, and having the mental ability to pick yourself up after hard moments one of the most arduous and strenuous things ever achievable.

Sadly this great sportsperson has remained far from the limelight. Dandamudi RajaGopal Rao from Vijayawada is rarely spoken of even when critics trace the history and evolution of the Olympics over the years. D.R.R is The Legendary, a Natural Sportsman and Left a mark on history.