It’s a lonely road for Indian kickboxers

Kickboxing in India is waiting to be recognised as an official game. Meanwhile, Indian kickboxers stumble along.

Bangalore, January 23, 2018: He is a two-time silver medallist in World Championships, is a cancer survivor, and has won nine gold medals in the national games. Yet, Girish R Gowda is despondent.

The Indian government is yet to recognise kickboxing as an official sport.

The 31-year-old, who was the first player from Karnataka to win the National Games said: “The main thing is that we have over 3000 players in India, who fight in the Nationals. Thirty will represent India in Asian Championships or World Championships. The government hasn’t recognized the sport, and I don’t know what the problem with them is.”

Kickboxing is an Olympic sport and most of Europe has recognised it as has the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO).

Girish also spoke of the fact that the current Karnataka government promised to provide him funds four months back, but when he enquired about it, they said the funds weren’t available for the time being.

India’s kickboxing coach, Karan Singh Vyas had similar things to say. Speaking on the plight of the sport in India, he said: “We filed our plea to make the sport official nine years ago, but till date, they are yet to recognise the sport. The current Sports Minister (Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore) has promised to look into this matter.”

He added: “Girish and all the other kick boxers have to fight it out without any government support. Most of the athletes come from poor background, so if the government makes this sport official, it will have a positive impact on their lives.”

Karan said that he and Girish will both enter the upcoming World Championships in August at their own expense, and that there wouldn’t be any government support, just like it has been all these years.

Dilip, one of the kick boxers training under Girish, stated there is no support from the government, and that it becomes extremely difficult for the athletes to keep going, given they have to manage their daily lives and their boxing life through just one source of income.

Having succeeded in the ring, Girish has also been successful off it, managing to fight cancer. Last March he was diagnosed with leukaemia, and for three months struggled to even walk. Speaking on how cancer impacted his life, he said that it was a really tough situation for him, so much that he first lost 20 kgs, and then gained 30 kgs, which made him ineligible for minus 81kg category.

“I did not lose hope, and within 43-45 days I reduced 10 kg weight by using my diet, which I designed myself. I only took three people in consideration, Indian coach (Karan Singh Vyas), my fitness coach (Bharat Venkatesh) and my doctor.”

For the upcoming World Championship, Girish is aiming to win gold and make his country proud. He said that Satish Mittal and Swastik Seva Trust have promised to provide him support for this tournament, and they will take care of all the expenses.

He is also planning to write a book on his life, about how he managed to fight cancer, and despite all the pain, succeeded to fight for his dream. His aim with this book is to inspire people who go through similar adversities, and let them know there is a way out.

Adding to all this, Girish also has achieved A-grade certificate as a coach in ‘Ring Sports’, and has also completed the International Referee and Judge course. But his aim, for the time being, is to fight it out in the ring, and win India gold in the World Championships.


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