Having won their first Olympic hockey gold four years ago, the Indian hockey team found itself in unusual circumstances at the 1936 Los Angeles Games. But despite the bickering and groupism in the team, India won their second gold medal.
The Indian team, troubled by groupism (Indians vs Anglo-Indians) that surfaced when Lal Shah Bokhari was named captain ahead of Eric Pinniger, arrived in Los Angeles to a rousing greeting.
A local newspaper headlined: “Hockey Kings arrive today; they will be accompanied by their many wives; there are two lions in the tea”.
The reference to royalty was understandable, but the second statement reflected the American ignorance and thinking that Indians have many wives when in fact there was only one lady in the contingent, the wife of manager G.D.Sondhi while the third headline was in obvious reference to the two Sardars in the team -- Gurmit Singh and Roop Singh (brother of Dhyan Chand).
Just before the march-past during the opening ceremony, second goal-keeper Arthur Hind refused to don the turban that was part of the official dress. The team’s non-playing captain Pankaj Gupta who had earlier persuaded Pinniger to accept Bokhari’s captaincy, ordered Hind to pack and go home, but the player tendered an apology and he was allowed to stay back.
En route to Los Angeles, the players were irked when manager Sondhi, travelling first class on the ship Haruna Baru that they boarded in Colombo for the 42-day journey, did not mix with the team that was lodged in “tourist class”.
The team stopped over in San Francisco where Bokhari was presented the traditional golden key at a public reception. However, Sondhi took objection and insisted that he should receive the key.
Again Gupta and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) president A. M. Hayman, who was travelling with the team, intervened and allowed Bokhari to accept the key on behalf of the squad. Once in Los Angeles, Sondhi stayed in a hotel while the team was put up at the Olympic Village.
Yet, the Indian team put in a fine performance though the field was reduced to just three contenders, United States and Japan being the other two. India notched a record 24-1 win against the hosts with Roop Singh scoring 10 and Dhyan Chand eight, and drubbed Japan 11-1 to win their second Olympic gold medal.
Indian team: Lal Shah Bokhari (captain), Richard J Allen, Arthur Charles Hind, Mohd Aslam, Carlyle Carrol Tapsell, Leslie Charles Hammond, Masud Ali Khan Minhas, Broome Eric Pinniger, Frank Brewin, Richard John Carr, Gurmit Singh Kullar, Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh, Syed Md Jaffar and William Sullivan.
India beat Japan 11-1 (Dhyan Chand 4; Roop Singh 3; Gurmit Singh Kullar 3; Richard Carr 1).
India beat United States 24-1 (Roop Singh 10; Dhyan Chand 8; Gurmit Singh Kullar 5; Broome Eric Penninger 1).
Final positions: India 1, Japan 2, USA 3.