Daily wage earner becomes national kickboxing finalist
Mohammed Iftekhar Khan, a 19-year-old from the Mumbai suburb of Vashi, works as a raddiwala, recycling used newspaper, books and magazines.
Although of modest means, the teenager will travel to the Eastern Indian city of Kolkata, representing Maharashtra at the senior national kickboxing championships, which begin on the 25th of August, reports the Times of India.
With neither coach nor training ground, Khan spent an entire year searching for an open area in order to practise and hone his skills. He found this in the open grounds of a Gurudwara in Airoli, a satellite town on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Using the grounds of the temple to practice his boxing, Khan participated in the junior national kickboxing championships hosted by the Maharashtra Kickboxing Association, under the flagship of the National Kickboxing Federation, in Pune last year.
The India arm of the World Association of Kickboxing Organisation informed Khan earlier this year that he had been shortlisted to participate at the Nationals event in Kolkata this August.
The youngster has been practising martial arts for over a decade now, also runs daily to supplement his exercise. "I faced a tough time the entire year, but I looked at it as a transition period. With self-training and determination, I have overcome all obstacles to fight back and win medals. When I encounter any problem in technique and improvement, I call up my mentor in Uttar Pradesh for guidance,” he says.
The event will be held in the city’s Salt Lake Stadium’s boxing ring.
Initially representing Uttar Pradesh, he was trained by U.P-based coach Wasim Mohammad, and won the most laurels for the state, where he is originally – one gold and three silver medals at the national kickboxing championships. He only moved to Vashi over one year ago in order to make ends meet.
Khan, meanwhile, has other dreams for the future. He wishes to enlist in the Indian Army, saying “I wish to serve my country.”