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Champion selling meat

A national gold medalist for three consecutive years Shyam has been cutting meat to keep his hearth burning, writes Ramesh Babu.
Hindustan Times | By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2007 12:14 AM IST

After heavy workouts this international taekwondo player has to rush to the nearby butcher’s outlet. Not to buy meat but to eke out a living. National and international honours are many in his kitty but Shyam Jamaluddin (28), a first class graduate, knows it well that these medals won’t fetch him food. He has to cut, size and mince the meat to keep his hearth burning. Hailing from a poor family he has to look after his aged parents and other family members as well.

A national gold medalist for three consecutive years (2003-05) and a South Asian Federation games participant Shyam has been knocking at many doors for a job. Several promises came on his way but all failed to materialise hitting at mere technicalities.

Since the Olympic-recognised Korean martial art form is new to the country, several sports bodies haven’t recognised taekwondo. Many sportspersons have advised Shyam to switch over to other streams that can easily fetch him a government job but the love for his sport prevented him from doing so.

His triumph has come against heavy odds. Son of a butcher, his father’s meat stall was demolished by civic authorities while widening the road. Wallowing in poverty and penury he climbed the higher echelons of this sport with sheer grit. But time has now come that he cannot pursue the sport just for the love of it.

"See I am fed up with the apathy of authorities. Last year I got injured during the national selection trial at Guwahati. I took a personal loan of Rs 60,000 to undergo a ligament re-construction surgery at a hospital in Coimbatore," the national champion explained his woes.

After his daily grind at the meat stall that fetches him around Rs 150 a day, he finds time to train youngsters in many health clubs. He loves to impart a few lessons to them in kickboxing and karate. True, he was the national champion in kickboxing for three years.

"Former chief minister Oommen Chandy personally promised me that I will get a job in a couple of months. Years passed nothing happened," the state’s first national champion in taekwondo lamented.

Lost all hopes some of his well wishers have advised him to petition Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, who has bailed out many desperate sportspersons like him. "Time is running out for me. Even high calorie food is becoming a luxury for me these days. I am desperate for a permanent job," he has now pinned all hopes on the Railway minister. Anyone listening?

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