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The phoenixes of world sports

india Updated: Sep 16, 2006 06:25 IST

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Mohammed Ali: He was 25 when he knocked out Zora Folley in 1967, to retain his heavyweight title and 32 when he reclaimed his title from an undefeated George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in ’74. In the intervening seven years, Ali was stripped of his title for refusing Army duty, banned from boxing for three years and lost the Fight of the Century to Joe Frazier upon his return to the ring. By the time he got into the ring with Foreman, who was 40-0 and had crushed both Frazier and Ken Norton (the only two men who had beaten Ali), few gave Ali a shot. But The Greatest knocked out Foreman in the eighth round to complete a legendary comeback.

Jimmy Connors: Having dropped to No 936 in world rankings in 1990, the former World Number One came back after a surgery on a deteriorating left wrist to play 14 tournaments climaxing with a phenomenal run at the US Open in 1991. While celebrating his 39th birthday during the championships, Jimbo powered his way all the way through to the semi-final before finally being beaten by reigning French Open champion Jim Courier.

Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath: During his two decades at the top, Jimmy was dropped from the national side on innumerable occasions. But he clawed his way back to silence the “bunch of jokers” each time. Debuting against Australia in 1969-7, he was put in cold freeze before reappearing in the team to New Zealand and the Caribbean in 1975-76. After  a few erratic seasons, he was hit on the head with a bouncer that kept him out of action for three years in 1979. Jimmy came back to play an important role in India’s only World Cup triumph in 1983.

Martina Hingis: The teen prodigy went to the top of the tennis mob with five Grand Slam singles and nine Grand Slam women's doubles titles, including holding all these for a calendar Grand Slam in 1998, before ligament injuries in both her ankles forced her to withdraw from professional tennis at 22. In November 2005, after several surgeries and long recuperations, the 25-year-old player announced she would return to the WTA tour, starting her professional comeback at a low-key tournament in Gold Coast, Australia on January 2006. Nine months into her comeback, she has climbed to No. 9 in the world rankings.

Jugraj Singh: He is the survivor. India’s foremost drag flick exponent beat a life-threatening car crash and suffered multiple fractures in that car crash near Jalandhar in September 2003 to make it back to the Indian team. Ironically, his successor Sandeep Singh was also injured in the lower back after a freak shooting accident in the Shatabdi Express.

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