Jamshedpur octogenarian
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Jamshedpur octogenarians gym for wrestlers
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Jamshedpur octogenarians gym for wrestlers

Defying age, an octogenarian in Jamshedpur has been running a gym for wrestlers.

By Girija Kumar Ojha

Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), May 24 : Defying age, an octogenarian in Jamshedpur has been running a gym for wrestlers.

Brij Mangal Singh, 85, opened his "Akhara" (localised gym) or wrestling pit in his mid-twenties after winning his first gold medal at the 1945 National Games.

He continued to represent the country till 1970.

Singh became an "Ustaad" or coach to youngsters wanting to learn wrestling.

Today, his day begins before dawn. And for four hours, thereafter, he can be found wrestling for personal fitness and giving tips to youngsters on the nuances of wrestling at his Mangal Singh Akhara.

"The wrestlers are taught how to do sit-ups, free-hand exercises in a proper way. And, through a rigorous routine, they are taught the various wrestling tactics. One cannot teach or learn these tactics through theoretical lessons, they have to be practiced and requires a solid stamina and strength," claims Singh.

Singh recalls how his gym once used to be thronged with about 500 wrestlers a day. But today this has dwindled to about a 100, or slightly more.

He is clearly unhappy over the popularity of well-equipped modern gyms, saying these have sidelined the age-old "Akharas".

"During our time, the entire village used to be full of wrestlers. It was not like 'one wrestler for one village'. In those days, if you were not always on your toes, anyone could pull the rug beneath your feet. Nowadays, many popular games like cricket offer you an opportunity to reap dividends for a lifetime, having done well in the game. But traditional games like wrestling do not have that luxury," says Singh.

Singh, however, remains a huge source of inspiration to his pupils.

"Guruji might be over 80 years of age, but he teaches us like a 25 to 26-year-old person. He is the heritage of Jharkhand. He can still teach for another 15-16 years. Though he has aged, he is still healthy," said Abhishek Kumar, one of Singh's students.

Today, Singh has three sons and seven daughters and loves keeping himself fit n' fine. He says to remain fit requires strong determination.


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