Boxer Buddy D’Souza still packs a punch at 84

Buddy D’Souza, the first Indian to be honoured with the Arjuna Award for boxing (in 1961), is among many to submit a personal video to the Indian Shadow Boxing Challenge online contest.

FILE PICTURE: Buddy D'souza is the first Indian to be honoured with the Arjuna Award for boxing (in 1961).   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Senior citizens are supposed to be indoors in these Covid-19 times, protecting themselves and staying safe wherever they are. Buddy D’Souza is following the rules in the United Arab Emirates during a stay with his daughter in Dubai, though boxing can never be far away for this 84-year-old, a nine-time national champion. Dressed in T-shirt and shorts, he shot a video on shadow boxing. The footage shows him moving, weaving, jabbing in an imaginary boxing ring, punching and defending against the same imaginary opponent, leaving him a little short of breath towards the end.

Shadow boxing is a training tool for fighters, helpful in working on punching and footwork in preparation for competitive bouts, and can be done anywhere without gloves or a boxing ring. The first Indian to be honoured with the Arjuna Award for boxing (in 1961), famous for his uppercut knockout wins, he is among many to submit a personal video to the Indian Shadow Boxing Challenge (ISBC) 2020 online contest, the intent being to activate the Indian boxing community worldwide. Indian citizens are invited to submit 30-second shadow boxing videos done indoors or outdoors across age categories. The best videos (till June 15) will get prizes.

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The ISBC contest is modelled on the European Shadow Boxing Challenge and was launched on May 18, the champion’s 84th birthday, as a celebration for the sport. “I tried to do my part for boxing, encouraged by my children,” said the 1962 Asian Games medallist. “I approached boxing with strict discipline, trained hard every day to get to where I was. No matter how good you are, without hard training you will never reach the top.”

During his competitive days for Indian Railways and India as a scientific boxer, the gruelling training done then keeps him going now. “I trained daily for three to four hours during the competition season, 15 to 20km runs in the morning and three hours in the evening in the gym. Sparring was my favourite in training; it would train you for the real competition.”

 

The veteran now shuttles between Mumbai (staying with his son Buddy D’Souza Jr in Thane) and Dubai. “Dad was to return but got stuck in the UAE due to the lockdown. When we sounded him out about the video idea, he was ready to do anything for boxing,” the latter said.

The ISBC invite from Jay Kowli, the Mumbai City Boxing Association president and Boxing Federation of India secretary-general, came as an opportunity to connect with his sport and link up with names from the past. One of Indian boxing’s famous names is thankful to divine blessings and family. “God has always been in my corner till date. I prayed to him for blessings, power and strength throughout my career. My wife was the driving force through my life to work hard and provide for her and my family. Once she passed away, the family motivates me to keep going.”

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Kowli observed: “Buddy D’Souza was a crowd-puller in his boxing days and known as a very scientific boxer of those times. It is a matter or pride to see him in action at this age and making an effort to be a part of ISBC, which is a healthy way to remain in touch with the sport. The contest will surely inspire and engage all boxing lovers. The idea is to give the young and the old an opportunity to get involved in an activity amid fanfare in villages, towns and cities across India. It is also a way of keeping our boxers, coaches connected with the sport in these times when body contact sport is not allowed and meeting each other is not advised.”

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