Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav

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Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav
Medal record
Men's wrestling
Representing  India
Bronze 1952 Helsinki Bantamweight

Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav (Marathi: श्री. खाशाबा दादासाहेब जाधव, born January 15, 1926–August 14, 1984) was and Indian athlete. He is best known as a wrestler who won a bronze medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.[1]

The medal which was given to Jadhav was the first to be won by any Indian.[2]Since 1900 when Norman Pritchard won two silver medals in athletics, India had won gold medals only in field hockey, a team sport. He is the only Indian Olympic medalist to have never received a Padma Award.Jadhav was fleet footed, which made him different from other wrestlers of his time. English coach Rees Gardner saw this trait in him and trained him prior to 1948 Olympic games

Childhood

Born in a village called Goleshwar Tal in Satara district in Maharashtra, KD Jadhav was the youngest of the five sons of a renowned wrestler Dadasaheb Jadhav. At the tender age of 8, he defeated the local champion in just 2 minutes and went onto became the undisputed champion of his area.He did his schooling in Tilak High School in Karad district between 1940-1947.He grew up in a household that breathed and lived wrestling.

Wrestling career

His father Dada Saheb was a wrestling coach and he made Khashaba initiate wrestling at a tender age of five.His wrestling mentors in college were Baburao Balawde and Belapuri Guruji. His success in wrestling did not avoid him from getting good grades. He participated in quit India movement.He resolved to unfurl the tri color flag in olympics on Independence Day August 15th 1947.

Starting his wrestling career in 1948, he first broke into lime-light at the 1948 London Olympics when he finished 6th in the flyweight category. He was the first Indian to achieve such a high a position in the individual category until 1948. Despite being alien to wrestling on a mat as well as under international rules of wrestling, Jadhav’s 6th place finish was no mean feat at that time.

For the next four years, Jadhav trained even harder for the Helsinki Olympics where he moved up in weight and participated in the 125 lb bantamweight category which saw wrestlers from twenty-four different countries. He went on to defeat wrestlers from countries like Mexico, Germany and Canada, before losing his semi-final bout, but he came back stronger to win the bronze medal which made him the first ever individual Olympic medalist of independent India.

Four years later, before the selection for Helsinki Olympics, Jadhav alleged that nepotism among officials prevented him from getting selected for the Olympics. According to him, they intentionally gave him one point less than the eventual winner at the Madras Nationals, and this ruled him out of the Olympics. He did not bow down to corrupt officialdom and appealed to Maharaja of Patiala seeking justice. Fortunately the Maharaja of Patiala loved sports, saw his point, and arranged his entry in Olympic trials where he floored his opponent and won an entry in the Olympics. For the 1952 Games he and his family went around the village begging for contributions to enable him to flirt with destiny.Khardikar, principal of the Rajaram College, where Jhadhav studied, mortgaged his home for Rs 7,000 to send his former student to the Olympics. Despite repeated requests to Morarji for only Rs 4000, there was no help forthcoming from any quarter."He would have easily won the gold at Helsinki," said Sampat Rao Jhadhav, his cousin who was with Khashababhau when he left for Helsinki to compete in the bantamweight category."It was difficult for him to adjust to the mat surface. After two rolling fouls he missed out on the gold medal which was his for the taking. (The gold was won by Japan's Ishii Shobachi while Russia's Rashid Mamedekov clinched the silver.) Moreover, there was no interval between the two bouts and to fight with two world class wrestlers without appropriate rest was more than a Herculean effort," added Rao.But an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal. And a first is always special. The victory procession at the Karad railway station was a see-it-to-believe scene recalls Rao."There were dhols along with a 151 bullock cart procession right from the outskirts of Goleshwar to the Mahadeva temple which is normally a 15 minute walk. It took seven long hours that day and no one was complaining. We have not seen joyous scenes like that either before or after that day. There was a feeling of pride and every villager was basking in that moment of glory. Khashababhau brought the small village of Goleshwar, earlier a dot on the map, to the fore. The whole world knew and recognised Goleshwar as the village which gave India its first-ever Olympic champion."

Although India’s hockey team bagged a gold at the Helsinki games, Jadhav was the primary attraction when India’s contingent returned home after the Olympics. Jadhav was facilitated by his college and all the wrestling Gymkhanas of Kohlapur. The principal of Shahaji Law College, Kolhapur, Prof Dabholkar  mortgaged his own house to fund Jadhav’s participation in the Olympics. Jadhav had not forgotten this favour and on his return, he organized a wrestling competition in which he took part himself. He won several bouts in these competitions and handed over the  prize money to his professor and persuaded him to use the money to buy back his house.

In 1953 Japan wrestlers toured India and he defeated the world champion Unemori and continued his winning streak.

Post olympics

In 1955, he  joined the police force as a sub-inspector where he won several competitions held within the Police department and also performed National duties as a sports instructor. Despite serving the police department for twenty-seven years and retiring as an Asst. Police Commissioner, Jadhav had to fight for pension later on in his life. For years, he was neglected by the sports federation and had to live the final stages of his life in poverty. He died in a road accident in 1984.

KD Jadhav was a forgotten name for almost half a century. For someone whose achievement could not be broken for almost 50 years until Leander Paes won the bronze in 1996, KD Jadhav is a legendary sportsman in India’s history who deserved much better treatment than what he actually got and thus should should be engraved in our hearts and souls.

International competitions

Legacy

In 2010, a wrestling venue at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex in New Delhi was named in Jaedhav's honor.[3]

He did receive recognition in the form of awards, with Arjuna Award in 2001 being the most prominent.

Book

Olympic veer K D Jadhav by Sanjay Sudhane, National Book Trust.

Movie

Actor and now producer Riteish Deshmukh is all set with plans for his second production— a biopic titled Pocket Dynamo. The film will be based on the life of a wrestler Khashaba Jadhav, who won independent India’s first Olympic medal in 1952.

The film is titled Pocket Dynamo on the basis of the name Khashaba was referred to. Riteish acquired the rights for the film from Khashaba Jadhav Vikas Sanstha, a trust formed by Ranjit Jadhav, son of Khashaba Jadhav.  Confirming the news through an official statement,

Speaking about the sportsman, Riteish says, “He has quite a noteworthy journey and earned our country it’s first international medal but in time, his name and story was something that was lost. He is a hero who deserves to be remembered and honoured. We will work hard to do justice to the portrayal of his achievements.”

The script for the film, to be made and released in Marathi and Hindi, is currently being worked upon. 

Related pages

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 India Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (YAS), "Proud Moments of Indian Sports," "Olympics Bronze Medal, Helsinki 1952"; excerpt, "The victory procession at the Karad railway station was a see-it-to-believe scene. "There were dhols along with a 151 bullock cart procession right from the outskirts of Goleshwar to the Mahadeva temple which is normally a 15 minute walk. It took seven long hours that day ..."; retrieved 2012-7-20.
  2. Shariff, Faisal."Khashba Jhadhav, the hero we owe an apology to ...," Rediff.com; retrieved 2012-7-20.
  3. "CWG wrestling venue re-christened as K. D. Jhadav Stadium," The Hindu (India). July 6, 2010; retrieved 2012-7-20.