Pune’s national boxing medallist delivers newspapers for a living
Hailing from a poor family, 22-year-old Akshay Mare is unable to afford a good diet which is essential for his boxing careerUpdated: Jul 28, 2017 13:49 IST
Residents of Dattawadi area may not know that the athletic newspaper delivery youth is a national-level boxer. Hailing from a poor family, 22-year-old Akshay Mare is unable to afford a good diet which is essential for his boxing career (Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)
Residents of Dattawadi area may not know that the athletic newspaper delivery youth is a national-level boxer. Twenty-two-year-old Akshay Mare, a national bronze winner and four-time state gold medallist, is fighting the battle of poverty outside of the ropes .
Akshay’s day begins early morning when he leaves the one-room house, that he shares with his brothers Tushar and Vishal, and parents, in the Dandekar Bridge slum area, and reaches the newspaper distribution hub at Appa Balwant Chowk, four kilometres away, to pick up his bundles. While he is a newspaper boy of the Dattawadi area for the past eight years, his elder brother Vishal delivers milk.
In December 2016, Akshay played his first-ever senior national at Guwahati and returned with a medal in the light fly (46-49kg) category. He also earned the most promising pugilist award at the state level. Unfortunately, these stunning victories did not change the fundamentals of his life. He was forced to continue being a newspaper boy and forced to skip his morning training.
“When I was in Assam for my match, I was more worried about the additional work being done by my brother as we can’t afford to lose our daily customers. Finally, when my elder brother assured me that he would take care of my tasks, I felt relaxed,” he told HT.
After his strenuous morning routine, Akshay returns home and rushes to the Gen. Arunkumar Vaidya stadium in Bhawani Peth for training. There he works hard on his fitness, strength and technique under the watchful eyes of coach Vijay Gujar.
The boxing workout being physically intense, Akshay returns home only to hit the bed and get rest before getting up early next morning for paper delivery.
“We feel sorry for this kid. He is talented and has a huge potential to represent India. But, right now he is struggling to make both ends meet. He must get a decent job, which will allow him financial security and only then can he give his best at the ring. Otherwise, he will follow us, who unfortunately could not pursue boxing due to financial constraints,” said assistant coach Rakesh Bhanu.
Akshay, who is appearing for his junior college studies as an external student, doesn’t have to pay for his training but is unable to buy international quality boxing gloves and is completely reliant on the generosity of his coach and friends. His most important requirement is a good diet.
“For any national level boxer, diet plays a key role. The sport is very demanding and if you don’t consume enough amount of rich diet, your performance is likely to suffer eventually. Most of our boxers couldn’t perform up to their potential as they couldn’t afford a proper diet,” said Bhanu.
Akshay, who is now preparing for the upcoming nationals to be held in September, is eagerly waiting for a call from the Indian Army’s Bombay Engineering Group (BEG) for possible recruitment.
“It would be great if I get a chance at BEG. They have international quality infrastructure and I would be able to focus on my game without worrying about delivering newspapers,” he said.
Akshay Mare achievements
Gold - state-level in Chandrapur - August 15-16, 2010
Gold - state-level in Mumbai - August 4-5, 2011
Silver - state-level in Akola - January 14-16, 2012
Gold - state-level in Bhusawal - December 15-18, 2013
Silver - state-level in Chandrapur - December 3-6, 2014
Bronze - state-level in Bhusawal - December 21-24, 2015
Gold - state-level in Nagpur - November 24-27, 2016
Bronze - national-level in Guwahati - December 8-13, 2016
First Published: Jul 28, 2017 11:30 IST