Shamya Dasgupta’s book on boxing is a comprehensive account of the sport
Boxing caught the imagination of Indian sports lovers after Vijender Singh’s bronze medal winning performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Since then, the sport has taken a major leap and Indian boxers have made a mark for themselves in the international arena.
Bhiwani Junction - The Untold Story of Boxing In India (Harper Collins), a comprehensive book depicting the journey of Indian boxing over several decades, has seen the light of the day at the most appropriate time – when eight Indian boxers, including M. C. Mary Kom, look fiercely determined to make history at the London Olympics.
Driven by his love for boxing, sports journalist Shamya Dasgupta has put all his experience of covering boxing as a reporter to chart the growth of the sport since its pre-natal days.
“It’s a great sport. For the first five-six years as a journalist in Tehelka and The Indian Express, I travelled a fair bit and made a lot of friends (in boxing circles)…Thankfully, the publisher showed interest,” says Dasgupta on his maiden book.
Understandably, the book has focused on Vijender’s moment of glory in the Olympics and its effect on transforming Indian boxing as a whole. Here one wished he had thrown more light on Vijender’s World championship bronze medal winning feat, the first by an Indian. A good number of pages have been devoted to Bhiwani, the nursery of boxing in modern India.
The clarity of thought of two-time Asian Games gold medallist Hawa Singh, who sowed the seeds of the sport in Bhiwani in the late 1980s, strikes the reader. “Hawa Singh Sir used to tell us that boxing is basically a game of eyes and the feet, the hands are just incidental. Every punch you land is actually made possible by your feet; everything depends on your body position. And eyes help you avoid punches,” former Asian champion Rajkumar Sangwan has been quoted.
The best part of the work is Dasgupta’s description of the evolution of the sport in the pre-Independence era. The author has been able to provide a lot of insight while presenting the journey of boxing as a gripping story.
The hard work and research from Dasgupta is distinct. “There was not much in the National Library in Kolkata. In fact, there is not much boxing literature as far as history of the sport is concerned. Most of it is oral,” says Dasgupta.
The book has dealt with all the great boxers the country has produced, the politics part of the sport (both inside the federation and among the coaches), the progress of women boxers and the overall future prospects. One can feel that it is a work full of emotions.
A book on Olympic quiz
As the title suggests, The Ultimate Olympic Quiz Book is one of the better books on Olympics quiz. Authored by television journalist Suvam Pal, it is a must for sports lovers and those who love to enhance their knowledge about the quadrennial extravaganza in particular.
The book is reader-friendly. All the editions of the modern Olympics have been covered chapter-wise. It has a section each dedicated to the ancient Olympics and the Winter Olympics. Besides, subjects like ‘Indian Hockey Heroes’ and ‘Incredible Indians in the Olympics’ make it more relevant.
The most striking feature of the book is that the author has not tried to include run-of-the-mill stuff and easily available information. The quiz leads the reader to some rare and interesting information. One can see that lot of research has gone into collecting and presenting the facts and figures.
Besides, factoid boxes tell fascinating stories about the Olympics and break the monotony of going through a book full of Questions and Answers. There is nothing jarring about this work.