Kaur Singh, a forgotten boxing champ who is now leading a silent life in his village near the northern city of Chandigarh, has dissuaded his children from taking up sports after reflecting upon the neglectful treatment he received from the government.
Singh said that athletes put their hearts and souls into win medals for the country, but never get due support during tough times.
“I chased the government to pay me just Rs. 150,000 (Approximately $ 2,125) for my medical expenses, but I could not get any support. I feel a sportsman suffers a lot when he doesn't get support to succeed. A sportsman puts his heart out to achieve something in life, but in India I feel there is no support system,” Kaur Singh says.
“In foreign countries, you get nutritious food without mixing (adulteration). In India even finding nutritious food with no mixing is hard as lots of fake products are on the market,” adds Singh, whose life journey is slated to be shown in an upcoming biopic titled “Padma Shri Kaur Singh”.
Kaur Singh rose to fame in 1982 when he clinched the gold in the Asian Games in New Delhi. He was also honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1982 and bestowed the prestigious Padmashri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 1983.
The veteran boxer retired from the ring after representing India in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and winning two consecutive bouts. He joined the Indian Army in 1971 at the age of 23 as a sergeant and after his retirement, settled down in his village in northern Punjab.
The national champion rued that when afflicted with a health emergency, there was no support from any government agency. In fact, the Army came to his rescue, when he was diagnosed with a cardiac ailment. He was elated when Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan donated Rs. 500,000 (approximately $7,080) for his treatment.
Also disheartening was that the state government of Punjab had announced a cash award of Rs. 100,000 (approximately $1,415) when he clinched the gold in the 1982 Delhi Asian Games, but was never paid.
However, Singh, who is also the only boxer in India to have entered the ring against boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a exhibition match in 1980, says he has no regrets.
“Life is good. I never regret anything in my life as God has given me a lot. It’s just that I want players not to get into drugs, focus on themselves and just hope our country pays more attention to other sports as well. Cricket is the only sport in India which gets top attention,” says Singh. “We need to bring other sports of India to the map of the world. India is the second largest country in population and lacks in many sports at the world level.”