From practicing Wushu at dairy farm to playing final in Brazil
Son of Kangri weaver wins silver in World Wushu Championship
Soibugh (Budgam), Aug 01: When Mohammad Saleem Kumar, a ninth standard student, started developing an interest in Wushu, the residents of his village would taunt him saying that martial art is going to ruin his life.
The same villagers who were once skeptical about Kumar’s martial art skills garlanded him on the day of his return from Brazil, where he won a silver medal in the 7th World Wushu Championship." I was welcomed by the same people who used to oppose my decision of playing Wushu," he says.
Kumar, a native of Soibugh village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district started practicing Wushu, also known as Kungfu, in the year 2008 when he was a child.
Finally, after 10 years of rigorous preparation, he managed to clinch a silver medal in the 7th World Wushu Championship in 56 KG category held in Brazil between July 09-16 and thereby bringing laurels to his state.
Kumar defeated his counterparts from Turkey in the first bout, Algeria in quarter-final and Egypt semi-final, but lost to Iran in the final.
Kumar has also bagged five medals in the national championships that include three gold medals. He claimed his first gold medal in 2010 in Tamil Nadu.
He says that playing several national championships boosted his confidence. "I learnt a lot while playing in India that paved the way for me going to Brazil."
Prior to landing in Brazil, he underwent training in China. "I met many trainers in China from whom I learnt new techniques."
Kumar has a poor background; his father is a Kangri weaver who extended unflinching support to him and also his mother, who is suffering from several ailments, stood behind through thick and thin. "Without the support of my parents it was impossible to achieve the feat," he says.
When asked what difference he found between himself and other players in Brazil, he says, "There is not a big difference in training. But when it comes to facilities, there lies a major difference."
He says that Jammu and Kashmir government has almost neglected Wushu in the Valley. "Players from other states like Haryana get tremendous support from their government. They receive scholarships as accolades. However, our government has abandoned us. Neither, we have any equipments nor the required infrastructure for getting better at Wushu sport."
He adds, "Besides winning silver in Brazil, I'm also a five-time national medalist, nevertheless I have never received any kind of support from the government."
Interestingly, Kumar received training at "Wushu Martial Art Centre Soibugh Budgam" which according to him is in a pathetic state of neglect.
Kumar’s coach, Nisar Ahmad Mir, who has won dozens of medals in national and international competitions, hired a dairy farm and started training students there. The signs of the farm are visible at the academy.
"When the government didn't provide any support, our sir (Mir) rented a farm building for our training," Kumar says adding that it is because of the hard work of Mir that people are still practicing Wushu in Budgam."
Kumar demands that the government should come forward and provide support to Wushu players. "Besides gym and other facilities, the need of the hour is that government should provide us with a hall where we can hold practice sessions."
About future plans, the Budgam boy says that he is currently working very hard for making a place in the forthcoming Asian Wushu Championship.
Finally, Kumar has a piece of advice for the budding Wushu players in J&K: "Practice practice and practice."