Rahul Bose admits that when he went to meet Milkha Singh he hoped to return with sports memorabilia that goes back by half-a-century. But when the athlete asked his daughter-in-law to bring out ‘the shoes’, the actor was in for a surprise. He had been handed the pair of Adidas spikes, which Milkha wore while running the 400-metre race in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
“They were blue, battered and without laces. Milkha sir even signed them,” says Rahul, recalling his lunch with the ‘Flying Sikh’. “We discovered that both of us owned houses in Kasauli and he knew of my grandfather, who had also served in the army. When he heard the money was for charity, he donated the shoes.”
Messi on board
Getting Lionel Messi to sign a football was tougher. Rahul chased the world-famous footballer across four countries and then turned up in Kolkata for the Argentina-Venezuala friendly. He even stayed at the same hotel. “But three rings of security wouldn’t let me even approach Messi,” he says. Rahul left the ball with former Indian footballer, Baichung Bhutia, and the organisers. “Then I got a call that Messi had signed the ball in Bangladesh,” he recalls.
The charity has a special five-piece section donated by Baichung, including a jersey signed by the entire Barcelona team and the farewell jersey with his name and number 10 on it. He wore it when he played his last match against Bayern Munich in January: “The money from these items will go towards an astro-turf in Sikkim that’s been Baichung’s dream.”
Through Dheeraj Malhotra, who works with the ICC, Rahul got a match ball signed by Indian and Sri Lankan cricket team captains, MS Dhoni and Kumara Sangakara. The ball was used during the 2011 World Cup Finals, where India won. Dheeraj has also donated a bat signed by all the World Cup captains and one by the Indian team, along with the bat used by Sachin Tendulkar during the IPL 2011, which was donated by the Indian Cricket Dundee.
With love from Lara
“A bonus was a bat signed by Brian Lara (former West Indies captain),” says Rahul, adding that it happened during the Mumbai Marathon when Lara was down with a delegation from Trinidad. “I was at the Trident when I got a call from my friend wondering if I could take Brian and a few other West Indians to the party that evening.”
Rahul asked him team to send across two bats hoping he could coax Lara to autograph them: “It was past 2 am when I mustered the courage to make the request. Lara was tickled pink to see that the bats had his name and picture on them. He signed one for me and took the other home.” Last year, the gold medal that Vishwanathan Anand won for his third World Chess Championship in Berlin fetched The Foundation R17 lakh. This year, the chess grandmaster’s first World Championship trophy from Tehran will go under the hammer. Says Rahul, “I couldn’t believe that the first sports-person I approached in 2010 gave me not one, but two World Championship trophies.”