Toshisuke Kanazawa is inspiring evidence that growing older need not mean giving up on the things that keep us feeling alive and vital. The 86-year-old bodybuilder from Japan recently broke his own record by competing in the bodybuilding championship, making history as the oldest person to do so in Japan.
Living in Hiroshima, Kanazawa faced men much younger than himself in the 68th edition of the championship in Osaka. He has participated in the Japan championship for the past two years and has won it twice. Despite missing out on the final twelve, Kanazawa was happy about the chance to compete and expressed gratitude.
“I hope I can reach the hearts of others when they see me take on a challenge even in old age,” Kanazawa says.
At the age of 20, Kanazawa started competing seriously, and four years later, he won the Japan championship for the first time. He took home his second Mister Japan title at 27, and at 34, he announced his retirement, saying he'd had enough. He clarifies that he returned before turning 50 to support his wife, who was prone to illness. Recalling that she had been happiest when he won, he decided to pick up his training, adjust his diet, and enter competitions again. He stopped drinking and smoking reduced his intake of meat and fish, went back to eating mostly rice, fermented soybeans, and miso soup with eggs for meals, and began going to the gym for three hours every day.
Kanazawa has won a total of 15 Japan championships and, at the age of 57, won the Masters championships for bodybuilders 40 and older. In a bodybuilding competition for competitors over 65, he placed sixth globally in 2016 and was awarded a special medal for being the oldest competitor.