November 15, 2016


Boxing is now gaining popularity in India as a game at national level. Medals at several international boxing matches have been won by Indian boxers. So, sports lovers have started taking interest in this game all over the India. Boxing matches are now being held in small town schools. 

However, the situation was very different 50-55 years back. Boxing as a game was played in very few elite schools of the country. It was not much known in a state like Punjab which otherwise held a very respectable position in sports because of its hockey players. Most people had seen boxing matches only in movies (there used to be no TV during those days).

A boxing match

So it was a moment of great excitement for all when the Northern India boxing championship matches were announced to be held at Ludhiana in 1958. I was a B.Sc.Ag. final student at that time studying at the Government Agricultural College (PAU came into existence later) located at Ghumar Mandi. 

The venue for matches was Daresi Grounds. A raised arena was erected there. Chairs of 3-4 types (in commensuration with the status of visitors) had been placed put all around this arena. I do not remember exactly, how much the entry ticket was, but it should not have been much as most students of those days could not afford more than a rupee (20-25 US cents) for such events.

Daresi Ground of Ludhiana today on Dasheri festival

The matches started in the evening. Nearly all the chairs were occupied. The first rows, which had a few cushioned chairs too, were occupied by the officers from the district administration like Deputy Commissioner, SDM and other district officers. I clearly remember that there was no politician VIP. The system of making local politicians as VIP in such functions came much later.

All the spectators were waiting for the event to start with great excitement. After all, most of them were going to see boxing for the first time in their life. So they were getting somewhat impatient too.

The bouts started after about 20 minutes of the scheduled time. Well this much delay was normal in such functions. The names of boxers were announced and they would enter the arena, wait for the referee’s whistle and start fighting each other. Each match had three rounds and the winner was declared after that.

Nearly all the boxers were persons of ordinary body built. They were playing with a lot of caution probably not to loose points. So the sport was not exciting the spectators who expected that the players will be bulky freestyle wrestler type players beating each other like real life fights. Luckily, there came a boxer Pal Singh (most probably from Punjab Police). He was of medium built quite stout and looking very fearless and brave for most spectators. Unlike professional, he would stand straight in the arena and start hitting his opponent with electric speed and full force. The referee gave him some fouls too. None of his opponents could stand before him. He won every match and also got great applaud from the spectators.

There was only one pair of boxers in heavy weight category. One of them was Mr. Nakai from Police Training School Phillaur. This pair looked like wrestlers but did not impress us at all as they were played only defensive. They were no match to fighter Pal Singh who had stolen the show in the eyes of public.

The show ended after a little more than two hours. Spectators started getting up from their chairs. Everyone seemed to be happy and was commenting about this sport which he had seen for the first time. A sardarji, in his fifties was sitting in the row next to us. He remarked, “Every thing is fine in this game but one thing is badly missing.” When his companion asked him to elaborate, he said, “The players should also be permitted to hurl abuses while hitting the opponent as without a big loud abuse there is not much charm in beating the opponent ( Ghasunn marran lagey gaal kadhan dib hi izazat honi chahidi. Gaalon vagair ghasunn maran da josh ni awanda),.

No comments:

Post a Comment