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KD Jadhav - Man of Bronze
By Gulu Ezekiel

Of all the tales of neglect and utter callousness that are such a sad feature of Indian sport, few can match the shameful treatment meted out to the late wrestler Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav.

From the time of Norman Pritchard (1900) to that of Leander Paes (1996) - nearly a century - Jadhav's bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics was the only individual medal earned by India.

Yet, one of the nation's most illustrious sporting sons was neglected during his lifetime and forgotten after his tragic death in a road accident in 1988.

Despite his achievement, Jadhav got no national or state recognition, no Arjuna Award and no cash awards. Even after his death his widow Kusum received nothing save Rs. 25,000 as compensation. A lifetime in the police force and yet the family lived barely above the poverty line in Karad, Maharashtra.

Jadhav earned 6th place in the 1948 London Olympics (freestyle/flyweight). But his moment of glory would come four years later in Helsinki where he bagged the bronze medal in the 52kg. category in freestyle (bantamweight).

Like many families in Maharashtra, Jadhav's too was steeped in wrestling. His father Dadasaheb taught the game to his five sons, of whom Khashaba was the youngest. The other four sons were Balkrishna, Jyoti Ram, Kashiram and Dinkar, all of whom excelled in the sport. He also had three daughters.

From a tender age Khashaba used to watch wrestling bouts, sitting on the shoulders of his father. Showing promise at school, he was shifted to Tilak High School in Karad where he used to briskly walk the four miles from his home every day. At school, he excelled at wrestling, kabaddi, running, swimming and gymnastics.

By the time he graduated to Raja Ram College in Kolhapur - a nursery for wrestlers -he had earned a name for himself all over south Maharashtra.

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