HYDERABAD: The glittering collection of over 70 medals karate champion Pathan Jameel Khan has won in championships around the world over the last two decades stands in total contrast to the life of penury this martial arts exponent is living today.
The 45-year-old, who brought many laurels to the country with his sheer hard work, is now struggling to make ends meet.
In the fasting month of Ramzan, a few good Samaritans have come forward to help him with food, which highlights the pitiable condition the grandmaster is living in.
Jameel Khan is the sole breadwinner of the family of five including his ailing mother, a sister and her two daughters.
He has been running from pillar to post knocking at the doors of the Telangana government for the last several years for a job. He told IANS that he has been meeting ministers and officials but no help came from anywhere.
Living in a two-room rented house in Humayun Nagar, he has seen how the successive governments showered cash prizes on other sportspersons and allotted them house sites in posh localities in Hyderabad.
"When the government can give them 500 square yard plots worth several crores of rupees, why can't it allot a 100 square yard plot to someone like me who has achieved so much but has no house," asked Jameel in a voice choking with emotion.
Hailing from Mandamarri in Mancherial district, Jameel comes from a family of fruit vendors. Himself a pushcart vegetable vendor, he developed a keen interest in the martial arts when he was around 15 and a demonstration of martial arts happened at a school in his village.
He started taking coaching in Warangal and shifted to Hyderabad some two decades ago. He proved himself in national championships and in 2001 he went to Bangkok for his first international tournament.
Since then he has won 73 medals including 45 gold, 12 silver and 16 bronze at various events in different countries including the United States, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
He takes part in karate, in which he is a First Dan black belt, Taekwondo (2 Dan) and Kung Fu (7 Dan).
He participated in world championships in the US for 12 years and won 48 medals including 18 gold and 12 silver. "I am the only Indian to win 48 medals in these championships," he says proudly.
In 2019, he won a gold and two bronze medals at the Taekwondo Championship in the US.
Despite not receiving any help from the government, Jameel Khan was making a living by coaching students in schools. He was coaching in Safdaria Girls' High School near his house. However, the closure of the school due to the Covid-19 pandemic since last year pushed him into financial problems.
Jameel recalled that his father, who was mentally unstable, went missing in 1999 and since then he has been shouldering the responsibility of running the house.
Undeterred by the lack of financial help from the government, Jameel wants to continue participating in international events and bring more laurels to the country. However, the pandemic has put a halt to his winning streak. Jameel is still waiting to achieve his ultimate dream of representing India in the Olympics.
He also wants to set up an academy to train youngsters in martial arts. He, however, is unsure how he is going to achieve this in the absence of any support from the authorities. (IANS)