A heavyweight politician against a heavyweight wrestler. The Chandrayangutta Assembly constituency is witnessing an interesting battle this time. On one side, it has the Congress fielding heavyweight wrestler and bodybuilder Esa Bin Obaid Misri, who is making his political debut.

And on the other side is Akbaruddin Owaisi, a political heavyweight, without doubt, having won the seat four times already and a name that is not new at all in politics.

However, Misri is unfazed. He says that at the age of 20, he had knocked out a wrestler double his age and that the stature of his rival hardly matters. Misri, 49, started off as a wrestler when he was a teenager, about 35 years ago. Later, he took to bodybuilding and took part in several competitions in the country and abroad, winning several awards and medals.

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A fourth place at the Mr. Universe competition and the bronze in the 2009 Mr. India contest are just some of his titles over a three-decade-long muscled career. Now both his sons, who are doing their graduation, are into bodybuilding and participating in competitions.

On why he chose to enter politics, Misri says he often felt that youngsters were being misguided by some politicians in the name of religion. “I want to ensure that it does not happen and that people live in harmony and peace. The youth here have to grow on par with those in the other parts of the globe. Then, there are several developmental loopholes which need to be plugged.”

Stating that healthcare, education and employment would be his priorities, Misri is a promising emphasis on women empowerment and more exclusive educational institutions for girls.

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In a free-wheeling interview to #KhabarLive, the 49-year-old second-generation athlete says, “All political parties are busy sowing seeds of discord between communities. Here, we are seeing a war of words, albeit obliquely, between the candidates of the AIMIM and the BJP. I want to stop politics based on religion. There is a need for clean politics, which will reach out to all sections of society. It is only when this happens that development will take place,” Misri says.

The bodybuilder-businessman politician traces his roots to Hadhramaut in Yemen. “I belong to the al-Misri tribe,” he says, adding that he is no stranger to the Chandrayagutta Assembly constituency. “My mother’s family is from there. My businesses are in the same area. I am practically from Chandrayagutta,” Misri says.

So, how does he plan to take on a formidable opponent like Akbaruddin Owaisi of the AIMIM, who has been the Chandrayangutta MLA for several terms? “I have met thousands of people over the past 11 months. They have told me they would support my candidature, that they would vote for me. They want change,” he says.

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Misri says that constituents wanted to “change” former Chandrayagutta MLA and Majlis Bachao Tahreek founder Amanullah Khan and they did it. The time for another “change” has come, he says. Apart from clean politics, Misri plans to focus on healthcare. The need of the hour, he says, is to have better access to the public health system and affordable medicines. His sons, Ahmed Misri and Osman Misri, too, are body builders, and have won silver medals in an international championship. #KhabarLive