The first Musclemania Jakarta was held at the end of September 2000, witnessed by Lou Zwick, Musclemania representative. This simple account tells us all we need to know about the state of bodybuilding in Indonesia:
"My expectations were far surpassed with a turnout of over 240 impressive bodybuilders and a standing room only, sold-out house of near 1,500. The production was smooth and very professional and better than anything I have seen in the States. But most significant was the warm, unpretentious and genuine nature of the Indonesian athletes and people in whole."
"I knew Ade Rai was popular, but I can't exaggerate what a major figure he is among Indonesians. Everywhere we went throughout the weekend they adore this man. The highway tollbooth attendant, the passing taxi driver, the singing kid guitar players begging for money, the Grand Hyatt concierge - everyone wanted his autograph. Ade is so popular that Nike Asia and Reebok Asia are in a bidding war for his endorsement in addition to mattress, sports supplements and sports apparel companies. His chain of health clubs is expected to number over 100 soon and well over 20 sports nutrition outlets.
Take Nano de Mayo (photo), a tough, orphaned street kid to whom Ade was introduced. For the past two years, Ade has trained Nano not only physically but by teaching him self-respect and the skills for self improvement and business. Nano is now one of Ade's 60+ personal trainers working at his fitness centers. Or, there is DaDang, a once obese teenager with diabetes who Ade personally trained reducing his weight by nearly 100 pounds. Today, DaDang is a 25-year-old law student who owns two fitness centers and helps homes in a village compound near Bandung support his 39 siblings. Yes, his mother has 3 blood children and adopted another 37 children. They live in 3 large. Everyone in the family has their responsibilities and all are into fitness, too."
"Ade does not seem to have forgotten those less fortunate than him among his vast country. Because he attracted so much sponsorship for Musclemania, he dropped the ticket prices to Rp 15,000 ($1.65) for the poorer bodybuilders, the street guys who lift weights using steel pipes and trash cans filled with cement and can't afford to join a real gym. I wish that more "professional" and amateur bodybuilders would be like Ade Rai. The sport of bodybuilding would have a much better reputation. Ade is such a positive role model for younger bodybuilders and the sport as a whole."
So, what kind of place is Indonesia?
Indonesia stretches the farthest east and south on the map of Asia and is the only country belonging to the Asian cultural sphere to cross the equator. While it is said that the Indonesians and Malaysians are very similar in their culture and language, that only applies to the majority race in both countries, who basically share the same language that they call Bahasa, and the Islam religion. In reality both countries, and Indonesia more so, have a large number of races and languages that make their countries very diverse.
The most famous bodybuilder these days from Indonesia, Ade Rai himself, has his roots in one of these minority ethnic groups, the Balinese. Anybody who has been to Indonesia and who also knows Ade will say that he isn't a very typical-looking Indonesian, but with his great size and muscles, he isn't a typical human being either! In any case, Ade is just one example of the great variety of human resources the country holds.
The last few years has brought turbulence and turmoil to Indonesia. Ade himself, while not a politician, is one of those people trying to make a big difference for his country. Most international bodybuilders of Ade's stature choose to move to the USA and live an easier life, but Ade is busy promoting the sport in his own country, setting up gyms and giving instruction in places where there was little known about bodybuilding before. Even the Indonesian media has needed to learn what bodybuilding is. Once when Ade sent his photo to a newspaper, they called back and asked for one "with his clothes on"!
Before Ade Rai's appearance on the bodybuilding scene the sport was, like in so many other countries, known by few and under-publicized, a sort of a fringe group. His high ambitions and dynamic methods have brought him his share of opponents among those who would prefer to keep these things the way they were. Time will tell which side prevails, but we are guessing the average citizen would side with Ade.
Preceding the present day physique masters of Indonesia was Californian Rory Leidelmeyer who, like Ade after him was and is still known for his awe-inspiring symmetry and aesthetic mass. Rory is well remembered today for his spicing up the USA bodybuilding scene in the late 70s and 80s.
Other Indonesian bodybuilders can be found active in neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. With the notable exception of Ade Rai, very few resident bodybuilders from Indonesia have been seen outside of their country in the last few years, although with the present interest in Musclemania, and exposure in that event, others such as Ricky Syamsuri, Yana, Adi, Age, and others are getting international exposure as well.
Click each image for a larger pic.