Beyond Tajamul Islam, the unheard story of Indian triumph at World Kickboxing Championship
India's tally of 13 medals at the 2016 World Kickboxing Championship went largely unnoticed.
The Indian subcontinent is a kaleidoscope comprising regions with diversity in culture, languages, economic setup and ethnicities. Due to history and circumstances, certain regions are spoken about more than others. An 8-year-old Tajamul Islam, belonging to Kashmir, won the gold medal in the Sub Junior category at the 2016 World Kickboxing Championship, which was held in Italy. Surely, Tajamul’s victory was fantastic for a girl who belonged to a valley that is presently battling militancy and political issues. However, it would be unfair to single out achievements of just one child out of 13, who brought laurels to the country on the international level.
A closer look into the entire matter suggests how one-dimensional our view can be sometimes. Apart from Tajamul Islam, 13 other athletes went to Italy for the World Kickboxing Championship in Italy and 12 of those returned home with medals, including young Sumit Kumar, who won silver and is barely two months older than Tajamul Islam.
Kumar hails from a village in Bihar called Malkha Chak and is the son of a farmer. Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Kickboxing Federation of India official VS Rawat, said, “We are really proud of Tajamul Islam and are extremely happy about what she has done. But it is quite unfortunate that all the focus should be on one child. Sumit is extremely talented as well and while he might not have won the gold medal, he deserves as much appreciation as Tajamul.
Ever since we have returned to India, we have been bombarded with phone calls and messages regarding interviews with Tajamul and despite our efforts, channels and newspapers did not pay any attention to the other kids. It is quite unfortunate that this happens. I am afraid that other kids might get demoralized,” he said.
Dhiraj, who won a bronze at these championships, told Sportskeeda about how things have not changed for him and fellow teammates. “We work really hard and it is a bit disappointing that there was no one to talk to us,” he said.
To put some facts into perspective, 14 athletes represented India in the World Kickboxing Championship in Italy, including three in sub junior, two in junior and nine in senior categories. Not only did 92 percent of the Indian contingent win medals, they managed to do so without any sort of support from the government. In fact, a lot of these athletes had to fund their own trip to Italy and other expenses, which came up to around INR 2 lakh.
The woes of Kickboxing Federation of India have been going for more than half a decade, since they were formed in 2008. “We have been applying for recognition from the Sports Ministry for a long time now but nothing has been done. The Sports Ministers keep changing and there are other federations, which due to their vested financial interests, want to get recognition so that they can get the funding from the government,” he said.
In fact, the athletes who went to Italy almost missed the competition due to visa issues. For reasons unknown, their visa got rejected in the first attempt but they managed to get it the second time. “A lot of our sponsorship got reduced and we had to leave a few athletes behind as well. These things can be quite disappointing,” Rawat added.
List of athletes who went to Italy
1. Tajamul Islam- Gold -below 35 kg (8years from j&k)
2. Yadvinder- Gold - below 57kg (from Haryana)
3. Sumit Kumar- Silver - below 35kg (8years and 2 month from Bihar)
4. Priyanka - silver- below 57 (bihar)
5. Amandeep - silver- 54kg (Haryana)
6. Sahil khurana- silver- below 40kg(haryana)
7. Sachin kumar- Silver- 63kg (Delhi)
8. Parth sharma- Silver- 57kg (H.P.)
9. Manoj kumar- bronze- 59kg (Bihar)
10- Ravi Kumar- bronze-75kg( Haryana)
11. Aman Kumar- bronze- 54kg (Bihar)
12. Dhiraj kant- bronze- 67kg (bihar)
13. Gourav kumar- bronze -57kg (Chandigarh)
14. Praveen Luxary- No Medal (Delhi)
The KFI has been battling for sponsorship and recognition for several years now. Rawat says that they do not even want the funding and a mere acknowledgement from the government could do wonders for these athletes. Their next goal, according to Rawat, is to qualify for the Asian Games in 2018 and support from the government would do wonders for them.