The Devsar Dham village on the outskirts of Bhiwani is famous for its Mata Ka Mandir and every year during the Navratras there is a huge festival in the temple, where people from all across the country visit the place to pay obeisance.
But, apart from the Mata Ka Mandir, another thing is attracting people to this dusty village — Jitender Kumar’s exploits at the Olympics. The 51kg boxer will compete in the quarterfinals in Beijing on Wednesday.
Because of Jitender, the village is witnessing a festival of sorts with people — especially media — from across the country descending on this tiny village. “Jitender has made the village proud and Mata will definitely help him win a medal,” said Jitender’s brother Sanjay Kumar. But it’s not only the village that is wishing for Jitender’s medal. Everyone in Bhiwani is having high hopes from both Jitender and Vijender of Kalwash village and organsing prayers for them.
A community prayer was organised at the local Bhim Stadium where residents of both the villages offered prayers.
Sleepy hamlet waits with bated breath
Kalwash village here is waiting for the moment.
Ever since the Games kicked off in Beijing, the hamlet has been following Indian boxers’s progress. Now that Vijender, who belongs to the village, and Jitender, who also hails from Bhiwani, are a bout away from a medal, Kalwash is praying fervently for their success.
“We are confidant Vijender will not let us down. The way he is performing, a medal is not far away. It remains to be seen what he wins,” said Vijender’s father Mahipal Singh.
Sports Authority of India coach, Jagdish Singh, is also optimistic. “Both Jitender and Vijender stand a good chance of winning and I wish them luck.”
The boxing village
“We get a number of boxers from nearby villages, but the maximum intake is from Kalwash. Almost every household boasts of a boxer and the sport enjoys popularity equal to cricket. Sanjay Kumar became the first pugilist from here to don India colours and now it is Vijender who is inspiring youngsters to take up the sport,” said Jagdish.
“Earlier, youngsters were involved in brawls that brought the village a bad name. Now their energy is directed towards boxing. Around 100 children from Kalwash are pursuing the sport in various centres,” said Vijender, who was inspired by uncle Narinder, a national-level boxer.