By day, Snibu S Ravi carries cement sacks or rice packets over his head. In the night the three-time arm-wrestling national champion flexes his muscles to practise hard.
The 27-year-old loader at Kochi’s main market puts in extra hours to fund his dream: attending the world championship in Canada in November.
Ravi knows his wages of Rs 220 a day won’t help him buy a ticket. But the champion is hoping against hope.
Sports bodies have shut their doors on Ravi saying arm wrestling doesn’t find a place in Indian Olympic Association-recognised events
But the three-time champion (he won in the 110-plus class for three successive years since 2005) is banking on sports lovers. For domestic tournaments, friends pitched in to help the taxi driver’s son compete. And he has never let them down.
In the run-up to the world championships, Ravi should be working out for at least eight hours a day. But he spends half the day making ends meet, says L B Mukundakumar, his coach.
“He needs at least Rs 1.80 lakh to attend the world meet. Despite doing a double shift for six months, he couldn’t collect even one-fourth of the amount,” says Mukundakumar.
After perfecting his moves past midnight, Ravi has to be back in the market the next day. “If I am not back in the morning, I”ll miss my bread,” he says.
Poverty has made him think about quitting the sport many a time. But his friends prevailed on him to continue.
“He is in terrific form. Given a chance, Ravi will come back with a medal. All he needs is a ticket,” appeals his coach. Is anyone listening?