Indian expat on wheelchair takes up Dubai Fitness Challenge

Sujith is now an official fitness influencer for the Dubai Fitness Challenge
Sujith is now an official fitness influencer for the Dubai Fitness Challenge

Dubai - The now 25-year-old paraplegic took his paralysis as a challenge and has vowed to walk one day.



By Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 24 Oct 2017, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 10:01 AM

Before suffering a life-altering motorbike accident, Indian national and UAE resident Sujith Koshy Varghese was a few months away from graduating college, and on his way to becoming a pro-boxer.

However, a few weeks before his 21st birthday in 2013, Varghese suffered an accident that left him with a T6-level spinal injury, 18 fractures to the skull, a ruptured lung, and three broken ribs. The now 25-year-old paraplegic took his paralysis as a challenge and has vowed to walk one day.

"I was in a coma for three days. And I was told by my family and doctors that I only had a 40 per cent chance of survival," he told Khaleej Times. Even if he survived, the doctors warned that he would not be able to see with his right eye, he would only have a poor memory, and would never walk again.

"I've proved the doctors wrong on two accounts, I'm trying to prove them wrong on the third," he added. For Sujith, being paralysed was a condition that he never accepted. "I still believe that I will overcome this. A journey that I will complete one day," he said.

Sujith is now an official fitness influencer for the Dubai Fitness Challenge, a 30-day fitness initiative launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council. "This is a fantastic initiative launched by Sheikh Hamdan, and I will be attending a few select powerlifting sessions as part of the Fitness Challenge," he stated. "Since I can't use my lower torso for support, I keep researching fitness routines of other paraplegic athletes on the internet and I re-work my fitness routine accordingly," said Sujith.

Despite his condition, he can bench press a whopping 100 kilograms, do up to 30 push-ups at a stretch, and exercise all his upper body muscles including chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and hits the punching bag as part of his cardio routine. He works out five to six times a week at the UFC Gym in Business Bay, Dubai.

Return to Dubai

Sujith reached a point where he'd lost almost 80 per cent of his friends and he considers this as the lowest point in his life. "People wrote me off as someone who is unfit to do anything except a clerical job... They said I wouldn't amount to anything. When I got back to Dubai, I decided to get my act together by hitting the gym," he said. Sujith shuttles between several buses and two metro rides from his home in Al Nahda, Sharjah to hit UFC Gym in Business Bay.

"The entire process takes four hours, but it's worth it. In the gym, I feel like I'm an equal to everyone else," said Sujith. Following a strict, protein-rich diet, Sujith, according to his doctors, is in great health at the moment. "My mom Saramma is my hero. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here now," he added.

He posts pictures and short videos of him working out on his Instagram page @sutjithstory garnering a fan following of well-known fitness enthusiasts that include the likes of Virgin Radio's Kris Fade. Sujith is also pursuing his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) examination and hopes to complete it to find a job in the investment banking. Sujith also recently gave a TEDx talk at a school in Abu Dhabi and inspired over 500 students.

Fitness routine

Sujith can bench press a whopping 100 kilograms, do up to 30 push-ups at a stretch, and exercise all his upper body muscles including chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and hits the punching bag as part of his cardio routine. He works out five to six times a week at the UFC Gym in Business Bay, Dubai. Following a strict, protein-rich diet, Sujith, according to his doctors, is in great health at the moment.

Sujith posts pictures and short videos of him working out on his Instagram page @sutjithstory garnering a fan following of well-known fitness enthusiasts that include the likes of Virgin Radio's Kris Fade.

The phoenix approach

Born and raised in Dubai, Sujith went to Bangalore, India, to pursue his Bachelor in Commerce. An avid sports lover, Sujith loved playing basketball and hitting the gym in his high school and college days. The youngest son of Dubai residents Saramma and Varghese Koshy, Sujith also has two older sisters Soniya and Sofiya Varghese. "When I discovered boxing, I fell in love with it instantly. I knew that I was meant to do it, and I began practising every day. I was on my way to take it up more professionally," he said.

"The accident happened when I was riding a bike at night. I vaguely remember smashing into a truck and my back hitting a wall. Next, I'm waking up in a hospital bed not being able to comprehend what was happening to me," he added. In the first two weeks after his accident, Sujith had to be tied down to his bed as he suffered severe medicine-induced hallucinations. "I remember sleeping one night thinking that this was going to be my last day on the planet. The doctors did mention that I was able to withstand the impact of the accident only because I was physically active and fit," he added.

Desperate to begin walking again, the young fitness enthusiast decided to give Ayurvedic (traditional) treatments a shot and went to a quack 'who was supposed to have worked wonders'. "He placed me on a hard-wooden plank, applied oil all over my body, and hit my thighs and legs to 'improve blood flow in the muscles," he added. This treatment caused severe pressure sores to his body that turned septic. The blood infection that came later was staggering and in no time Sujith was back in the ICU and doctors did a series of plastic surgeries. "I've had a total of 13-14 surgeries performed on me," he said. "My mom Saramma is my hero. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here now," he added.

KT Nano Edit

Fitness mascot

The Dubai Fitness Challenge is motivating different people to become mascots for a movement in the making. Inspirational stories such as those of the physically challenged youth should motivate us watch our diet and get moving. A balanced lifestyle is what's needed - nothing too heavy or too light - but somewhere in between. Once we find that balance, the quality of lives improves for the better. Let's move it.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com


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