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Modern-day Hercules aims to revive stone-lifting – Times of India



Modern-day Hercules aims to revive stone-lifting – Times of India

CHENNAI: Remember the 1985-released ‘Mudhal Mariyathai,’ where thespian Sivaji tries to lift a huge stone to impress the heroine? Stone-lifting has been in vogue in India and the world for a very long time.

Referred to by different names in the country, the game might get traction in Tamil Nadu, with Mohamed Harris Ashraf of Perungalathur near Chennai and his friends trying to revive its legacy of the game.

Ashraf, who lifted the Donald Dinnie stones on August 6 at Potarch in Scotland, has been athletic from a young age. Dabbling in several games, he fell in love with stone-lifting after watching a documentary called ‘Stoneland’ which is about Donald Dinnie’s games and stones. “After watching the documentary, I knew I had to go to Scotland and get my hands on the Dinnie stones,” he said.

Stone-lifting is popular across the world, especially in Iceland, Scotland and the Scandinavian countries. To this day, some competitive games and records are conducted based on the history of the stones. “In India, although stones don’t have a history, in the deepest pockets of TN, you can witness men tussle with the stones to prove their strength,” he said.

Donald Dinnie stones, a pair of granite stones attached to a ring and weighing 188kg and 145kg (for a total of 333kg), are one of the oldest historic stones preserved and documented. “I feel fortunate to have lifted the same stones that Donald Dinnie lifted in the 1850s. My thumb is imprinted on the stones as the 254th person in the world. It pushes me to do more,” said Ashraf.

Currently practising and training as a strength and conditioning coach, Ashraf wants to get more Indian men and women into stone-lifting. “Of the 260 people who have lifted the Donald Dinnie stones, 250 are men. I want to train more women so that they can also achieve what I did,” he said.

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