He invokes better value than Lionel Messi for brands investing on him. He is the only cricketer in Forbes’ latest list of 100 richest sportspersons. He is also the only Indian in that elite list released by Forbes. He has left the “KHANS” of Bollywood far behind as the first choice and highest paid brand icon in the country.
He is brand Virat Kolhi – a byproduct of cricketer Virat Kohli, a phenomenon on the field. The man with best success rate among contemporaries. The run-machine that is demolishing one record or the other outing by outing.
What makes Kohli the brand that he is! The consistency in performance, the best on the field tag, the runs and records spree, the best among his contemporaries, the ability to be in the headlines. These may be the few simple answers. His hard work in the nets, his practice regime, his averages and strike rate, his winning percentage as a captain, number of his international centuries, his centuries in winning causes may be a bit more technical one reply.
However, behind all these numbers and performances is the commitment of Bhagirathi – the mythological character, the legend who got Ganges on the earth.
The fitness regime may simply be measured by hours spent in training, by number of calories burnt or by a diet schedule. However, to be what Kohli has become is more about that mindset, the discipline, and uncompromising commitment.
Kohli on his first meeting with the Indian cricket team fitness trainer Shankar Basu had asked him “to count the fittest cricketers in the world”. For, he wanted to be 25% fitter than them. He, in Basu’s assessment, is at least 50% ahead of the best of the rest.
At what price? The run machine has not had wheat, rice, curry or deserts not just for weeks or months. But for years. Ever since he has been following his fitness regime like a religion. This is the level of discipline and commitment of a man who will sacrifice any meals for a plate of chhole bhature at his West Delhi neighborhood Rajouri Garden; who would relish homemade paranthas.
There are many anecdotes. “When Kohli found out that his body-fat percentage was nine per cent, he immediately countered that Novak Djokovic was a percentage and half lower. He measures himself against other athletes, rather than cricketers. He trains obsessively and, even in a tournament like the IPL, where the late nights mean it is easy to slip into bad habits, eats and drinks healthily with the zeal of a convert,” noted cricket writer has written quoting Ed Smith, England cricketer-turned-sportswriter who had worked as consultant for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) during the 2016 edition of the IPL.
The transformation in pursuit of excellence in fitness is complete, foolproof. The author of “Driven: The Virat Kohli Story”, veteran cricket writer Vijay Lokapally shares an anecdote to explain how West Delhi, foodie Punjabi boy has become extremely self-restraint and self-disciplined. Kohli had the writer at his West Delhi home along with his coach Raj Kumar Sharma for a session on the book. The visitors were served with what Lokapally calls “amazing” paranthas. That had has been his favourite breakfast item, but not anymore. He refused to even taste what the generous hosts had served to the guests. Not even on the insistence of the coach, who once would persistently dissuade him from taking junk food.
“He (Virat) will cut the ceremonial cake on his birthday. And thereafter it’s only the aroma that he will take. That defines the level of his commitment for fitness,” offspinner Harbhajan Singh. “The nation might be following Baba Ramdev for fitness, but I follow Kohli.”
He has been living on a diet of grilled fish, chicken, steamed vegetables, salads, egg whites, personalized breads. Nothing and absolutely nothing beyond what his personal trainer would recommend him. He won’t cheat even on the big occasions like his own birthdays or festive celebrations.
That is the commitment which translates his immense potential into a stream of success, makes him a million dollar brand icons, gives global brands the confidence to ink decade-long million dollar contracts.
In the corporate world, investment for each penny is driven by precise analyses. While Kohli’s on-field performance is giving brands the worth of every single penny invested India’s biggest brand icon, his unparalleled commitment for fitness gives them the much-needed confidence that face of their brand is there to stay right at the top for years to come.