"I started playing squash because it is totally different from other sports" - Ravi Dixit Interview
Ravi Dixit is a young, lanky squash player from Delhi, but don’t let his appearances deceive you as he is aggressive as Hulk once inside the squash court. He has been a junior national champion and has big plans of breaking into the international scene too. He is also a part of the Indian squash team.
You have been an Asian Champion. What are you aiming for next?
Well, after becoming the 1st Indian Asian junior champion, the hopes on me are more, to make more records like this one. Crossing over from the juniors to the seniors has been quite interesting for me. My outlook towards the game has changed quite a lot. At this level the competition is tough, so I have to work hard to keep up with the seniors. I am World No.2 in Under-21 category currently.
How is your performance coming along?
I am the third highest ranked Indian squash player, currently ranked 154 in the world. My performances have been consistent for the past couple of years on the circuit and I aim to improve further and make my presence felt at various PSA events this year. I also aim to make it to the top 50 in the PSA Rankings in the next 2-3 years.
What is your training schedule like?
My training goes on for 5 days a week, with 4 hours spent everyday during morning and evening. Since last 7 years I am training in Chennai under Major Maniam and Cyrus Poncha (national coach).
What do you think should be done to uplift the status of squash in India?
As I said, squash is not as famous as cricket (laughs). I think that to increase the popularity of any sport, it is important to get the people involved in the sport first. We have to reach out to the people if we want to make squash popular. A good way of doing that is to set up matches in malls, have live coverage on TV and make the game more viewer-friendly.
Are you sponsored by any company? If not, are you looking for it?
Not really, but I just don’t understand why nobody takes squash seriously. Why is it all the time about cricket, huh? I am really looking forward to it if some brand or company approaches me. Right now, all my expenses are borne by Mr. N. Ramachandran, the World Squash Federation President, SRFI (Squash Rackets Federation of India) and the Tamil Nadu government.
Do you think squash will be included in the Olympics? How is the bid coming along?
Yes, of course! Without a doubt, squash is one of the best sports in the world. We are trying really hard to get squash inducted in Olympics 2020. We have asked tennis player Roger Federer and a few of our Indian cricketers to support our sport, which they are doing, like Sachin Tenudulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag; we are really thankful to them. Our hopes are really high to get squash selected for 2020 Olympics.
What made you choose squash as a sport?
Basically, I am from Dhampur, which is a few hours from Delhi. There’s a sugar factory called Dhampur Sugar Mills Ltd. Its chairman is Mr. Vijay Kumar Goel. When I used to play squash in Dhampur, he used to help me with everything and continues helping me a lot. Then there is one person, my Godfather Mr. Sharad Sharma, and also my 1st coach Mr. Shyamlal Verma (who’ve helped me in my endeavour).
Well, there is one sports complex in Dhampur. I just used to go there everyday and hang out with my friends. Then one day, Mr. Shyamlal Verma asked me and my friends to try this game. I was around 10 years old and I agreed because squash is totally different from other sports and I found it very interesting too. From that day onwards, I started playing and till now, I am on it.
You had done a TV show ”Zor ka Jhatka” earlier. Are you planning to shift into the showbiz?
Well, it’s a very different and interesting question (laughs). Bollywood was a totally different field for me when I got a call from Percept Talent Management. I was at home with my family when they asked me if I was interested in working with Shah Rukh Khan in a reality show called “Zor Ka Jhatka”. I asked them what it was about. They told me that it’s kind of a sporty game. Its English version was called “Wipe out”. I just started laughing and said that it sounds good. Well, who doesn’t want to work with SRK!
To be honest, the reason why I did that show was to tell people more about squash. It’s because people don’t know much about this game. I just wanted to promote my game in different ways, like in Bollywood style. During the shooting of “Zor ka Jhatka”, I made so many good friends in Argentina like Claudia Ciesla, Vindu Dara singh, Dimpy Mahajan, Debina, Ashima Bhalla, Virjesh, Raja Choudhary, Mink Brar, Albert, and many more. I am still in touch with them. Whenever I go to Mumbai, I see them.