New Delhi: A dismal story of yet another Indian sportsperson has emerged from Haryana’s Bhiwani – where an Asian Games silver medallist has been forced to sell ice-cream on the streets. The 30-year-old Dinesh Kumar, in his illustrious run as a boxer, had once won 17 gold, one silver and five bronze medals in various competitions across the country and abroad.
In a video posted by a news agency, the former sportsperson can be seen pushing a cart titled “Dinesh Kulfi” even as auto rickshaws and people on bicycles pass him nonchalantly, little knowing that they are sharing the frame with a man who could have well become the country’s next boxing star. But that was before his car collided with a truck near Samana in 2014, nipping his dreams at the bud.
As pet reports, Dinesh’s took successive loans to send him to England and other countries and now the former boxer is trying to settle his family’s debts by selling kulfis. There’s no help coming from the government, and nobody even wants to know how we are doing. Things would have been very different if this had happened to someone else,” Dinesh’s brother was quoted as saying in media reports.
Meanwhile, the Asian games medallist still seeks support from government and has had no luck up until now. “Right now, I have no hope that the government will provide me with monetary aid or employment. None of the political parties that have been in power since my accident have found me worth helping. I want to let the government know that I am wasting away here even though I am still a good sportsperson. I want to help my family pay off the debts they accumulated trying to further my career and then get back into the boxing ring,” Dinesh told the news agency.
However, Dinesh is not the only sportsperson towards whom the government has turned a blind eye. Here are a few sportspersons who did India proud but never got their due:
Shanti Devi was part of Bihar’s team that won the National Kabaddi Championships in 1982 and 1983. In 2014, it was reported that she was selling vegetables at the Sonari Aerodrome Market in Jamshedpur to feed her 4 children. She had represented Bihar in the 30th, 31st and 32nd National Kabaddi Championship in the 1980s.
The 15-year-old sprinter Sita Sahu – who won 2 bronze medals at the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens – had to reportedly sells gol gappe in Dhobiya Tanke in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. A bronze medal in 200-meter relay race and another in the 1,600-meter race was not enough to aid her family of six.
Despite winning 3 gold medals and 4 silver in three editions of the South Asian Federation Games along with a silver medal at the 1990 Asian Games, Nachappa’s crowning moment, however, was outrunning PT Usha. She managed the feat twice. But with no future in the sport, she switched to acting and has since been forgotten.
He won gold in 110m hurdles at the 1954 Asian Games. It was his first international event and what was expected to be the first of many. But what followed was 20 years as a taxi driver after which he became a daily wage earner. He even ended up selling his gold medal for cash.
He won 2 Olympics gold and 1 silver along with 2 Asian Games gold and 1 silver. The first goalkeeper to ever captain an international hockey team, he was nicknamed the Rock of Gibraltar. But despite all the glory, he lived in extreme poverty and died due to gangrene.
Earning laurels for her country has neither given due recognition nor changed life for the better, as S Santhi, the silver medallist at the Doha Asian Games, still struggles to find a foothold. Santhi failed a gender test that followed the women’s 800 mt event. Worse was to follow as she worked in a brick kiln in Tamil Nadu’s Katthakurichi village to support the family of six.