This October, The Akshay Kumar Tournament, an annual karate championship, will enter its third year. And actor Akshay Kumar, who is spending R 2 crore of his own money on the event, is ensuring that his dates are blocked for those three days.
“My date diary is planned in January. And these dates were frozen right at that time. I ensure that I don’t shoot, or do so in Mumbai itself. I don’t just lend my name and donate some money for this competition. I’m there, body and soul.”
The actor’s son, Aarav, also training in martial arts, will participate, this year, alongside kids in different age groups from different parts of the country, as well as contestants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and Malaysia.
“Kids in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are very enthusiastic. Terrorism doesn’t seem to have affected their eagerness to learn kung fu and karate. And they’ve been trained so well,” says Akshay, adding that he plans to take the contest to a higher level next year by enlisting participation from Australia and Canada too.
When asked if Aarav would be under pressure to win the contest, since his father is a known martial arts patron and also the event’s key figure, Akshay denies it. “Aarav has a long way to go. He’s not even a black belt yet. I never pressurise him to win, but I push him to participate. Frankly, I don’t know which category he will participate in. I just hope he gives his best kick there,” he beams. “Parents who celebrate their kid or kids’ victory, unintentionally pressurise the child to win every time he or she participates. I don’t celebrate his victory, because it’s also another child’s loss.”
Apart from organising the annual karate competition, the action hero also plans to open an academy to train and promote martial arts enthusiasts. And for that, he’s searching for a piece of land close to his Juhu residence. “I was offered land by the government at Bhayander. I was appalled at their choice and didn’t take it up because it’s too far for me to travel,” says Akshay. “And if I can’t personally reach out to the learners, then why expect them to travel that far to learn?”