One look at his long white beard and weak frame, and you could just dismiss Kaur Singh as just another small-time farmer from Punjab. However, this farmer, from Malwa, is the only Indian boxer who has competed against boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
The Arjuna awardee Olympian boxed against Ali an exhibition bout in 1980, but has been forgotten now, even as the Rio Olympics are about to begin, and the players could definitely benefit from some motivation.
Kaur Singh, who got the Arjuna Award in 1982 and the Padmashri in 1983, has also recieved the Vishisht Sewa Medal (VSM) in 1988 from the Indian Army. When he was at the peak of his career, he had won the gold medal in the men’s heavyweight category for India, in the 1982 Asian Games held inNew Delhi.
However, somewhere along this stupendous journey, he lost his faith in sports, also disallowing his children from taking up sports as a career, maybe because he wanted them to have a safe future, unlike his own.
It was after participating in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 that he hung up his boxing gloves, and now lives in his native village Khanal Khurd in Sangrur, as a farmer tending to his four-acre farm. It’s been 34 years that he won the gold medal in the New Delhi Asiad and was promised a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh, but Singh is yet to get the money from the Punjab government.
“This is the biggest drawback behind our failure to get the right talent in sports,” he told TNN.” “The government needs to stand by sportspersons in their thick and thin,” he said.
After he retired from the Army, he returned to his village, where he now eanrs a modest living by farming. Even when he developed a heart condition that needed a stent to be installed in his body, the state government didn’t come forward to help the former superstar of Indian boxing. It was the Army that paid the fee for his treatment. “No government ever gave me recognition in the last three decades,” he says.
It’s not only boxing that Singh made his name in. He was given a Sena medal for his exemplary bravery in the India-Pakistan war in the Barmer sector in Rajasthan.
In his short career, he won six gold medals in the international competitions, including the Asian Games of 1982.
However, he was not always interested in boxing. In fact, it was only after he had joined the army that he came to know of boxing as a sport, taking it up professionally in 1977, competing in the senior national boxing championship held in 1979. He won a gold medal there, in the heavyweight category.
Source: Business Insider