Friday, June 13, 2008
From Chess King to Pauper
Story at Sify.com/Sports Abdul Jabbar: Chess King to pauper Manisha Mohite Once, he was hailed as a King. Today, the frail 59-year-old can be seen fetching files or making his way across tables with a tray of water glasses in the corridors of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. Meet Abdul Jabbar, who represented India in international chess tournaments for two consecutive years in the seventies. The Chess giant won many National Open tournaments and had beaten the then stalwarts in India including the country's first IM Manuel Aaron twice. Jabbar was also the Maharashtra State champion thrice and the first chess player to receive the "Chhatrapati Award', the highest award for excellence in sports in the State. Is this the sorry state that former sportspersons with achievements that merit applause are reduced to? Hailed as a 'King' for his power-packed performances in the royal game of Kings and Queens, Jabbar today is more a pauper. Working as a peon since 1967, he retires in the same position this year. This job has been his only means of livelihood. . . . Bogged down by backache, needing a major eye-surgery for his deteriorating vision, this ex-player, who would see way ahead of the others on the board, is forced to lead a hand-to-mouth existence after his retirement. Though coaching is one of the most lucrative options for former players, Anup Deshmukh quickly dismisses it: "He (Jabbar) has been playing and coaching a few youngsters but does not believe in charging money for his efforts". A fact which Thipsay quickly endorses. "As far as I remember, he had lot of pride and never believed in asking any favours. Perhaps, had he been living in Mumbai, he would have been a big name as chess was a well-liked and appreciated game here then." However, the chess players and the Nagpur District Chess Association (NDCA) are organising an Abdul Jabbar Benefit Maharashtra State tournament, as a benefit event. Most of the leading chess players from Maharashtra have pitched in with donations, while a few politicians and other sportspersons from Nagpur have also contributed, according to a release by the NDCA. Jabbar, who lived his life without asking for any favours either from his office or society, cannot help becoming emotional. "This benefit tournament appears like a dream." Full story.