Mahavir Singh got the Dronacharya Award this year for his ‘coaching role’ in MC Mary Kom’s boxing bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. Another trainer, Anup Kumar, has been recommended by the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) to the sports ministry for the coach’s cash incentive for the medal ( Rs. 15 lakh).
In this perfect scenario, everyone goes laughing to the bank, claiming their part in the success story. Only the facts in this case points to something not proper. The two were not part of Mary Kom’s coaching staff, either during the qualification phase or later in London; she was prepared by a different set of people led by a foreign coach.
As per the ministry’s guidelines, the coach under whom a player wins the medal gets a cash award equivalent to 50% of what the medallist gets. But for that the coach must have trained the athlete for at least 240 days (8 months) prior to the championship or Games. Mahavir and Anup don’t fulfill this criterion.
In the fringes
Mary Kom trained briefly under Anup in national camps, where Mahavir was one of the 10 assistant coaches. She left the national camp in January 2012 to train with her coaching staff for the World Championships in May, the only qualification event for women boxers for the Games.
This arrangement continued till the Olympics and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), through the ministry, funded her personal coaching programme from February 15 to August 1. During this period, Mary Kom attended three coaching camps, two in Pune and one in Liverpool.
The total expenditure on her coaching was Rs. 37 lakh which included boarding, lodging and salaries of the foreign coach, assistant coach, manager, support staff and sparring partners.
Mary Kom trained under a professional English coach, Charles Atkinson, and the other members of her team were Jenny Lal Remliani (assistant coach), Yatin Bhatak (manager), Nikhil Latey and Janvi (physios) and support staff and sparring partners K Anand, K Sagar and Lal Buatsnisi.
Two coaches have taken credit for Mary Kom’s Olympic bronze medal when neither was part of the boxer’s coaching staff. (File photo)
But the coach’s incentive for an Olympic bronze is Rs. 15 lakh, and it is no wonder there is more than one claimant. Asked if the federation was right in recommending Anup’s name for the cash award, IBF president, Abhishek Matoria, said, “Mary Kom has trained under Anup in national camps over the years and (he) was also her coach for the London Olympics. That’s why the federation has recommended his name. Moreover, Anup is the women’s national head coach and credit goes to him.”
On Mahavir being given the Dronacharya, Matoria said, “I have to check whether his name was recommended by the federation.” When contacted, Mary Kom said both the coaches had also helped her but acknowledged she did not find them good enough to prepare her for a competition like the Olympics.
“There are always a number of coaches in the national camp, so the credit for my medal goes to all the coaches with whom I had trained during the national camps and also to those under whom I picked up the sport in Manipur,” she said.
“The Indian coaches are sticking with old techniques, but for the Olympics I had to learn better and more improved techniques. That’s why I chose to train under Charles Atkinson during my final phase for the Olympics.”
She also explained: “I gave him (Mahavir) a letter of recommendation that he was a coach in the national camp and that I trained with him. That doesn’t mean he was the only coach in the national camp under whom I had trained. There were always a number of coaches, and if it looks like he was the only coach, then it’s a misinterpretation of my letter.”