(Last Updated on : 26/09/2013)
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was the first Olympic medallist of the independent India, in wrestling. He was the winner of Bronze Medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1952 Helsinki Games. He was born on 15th of January 1926 in Goleshwar village, situated on the bank of Krishna River
in Karad taluka of Maharashtra
state. He was popularly known as "Pocket Dynamo".
Early Life of Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav belonged to a wrestling
family and had always been a fan of sports especially wrestling, running, kabaddi
. Nanasaheb, his grandfather was a famous wrestler of his time. Jadhav received his primary training from his father Dadasaheb, who was a wrestling coach. Despite of being the youngest member of the family, he had always excelled in the sport and outclassed others. He completed his formal training from Tilak College under the mentorship of Belapure Guruji and Baburao Balawde. His trainings initially made him the undisputed and distinguished wrestler of the locality and gradually he started competing at national levels. His swiftness made him unique among the wrestlers, which was also noticed by the English coach Rees Gardner who trained him before 1948 Olympic Games. Apart from excelling in wrestling, Jadhav was also good in academics.
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav took active part in the Quit India Movement
of 1942. He contributed in the movement by sheltering numerous revolutionaries and circulating letters against the British. His wrestling career started in 1948-1954, while studying in Rajaram College at Kolhapur
, when he won several competitions at inter-college and inter-university levels.
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav in Olympics
He participated in the 1948 London Olympics and was ranked sixth. Later, after four years, prior to the selection of Helsinki Olympics, Jadhav posed allegations that the officials' nepotism prevented his selection in the Olympics. He stated that he was intentionally given one point less in the Madras Nationals, which ruled him out of the competition. He also appealed for justice to the Maharaja of Patiala
. Maharaja of Patiala loved sports and found his point valid. He then arranged the entry of Jadhav in the Olympic trials where he bagged his victory as well as entry pass for the Olympics. For his participation, he along with his family went from door to door around the village for funds collection since sports was not commercialized in that period and the concept of sponsors was non existent. In response to this, Khardikar, the principal of the Rajaram College where Jadhav had studied, helped him with Rs 7,000 by mortgaging his house.
According to his cousin, Sampat Rao Jhadhav, Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav would have won the Gold Medal at Helsinki but could not, owing to the mat surface with which he was not used to. He missed out the gold medal after two rolling fouls. Besides this, he did not even get an interval between the two bouts and appropriate rest was required for competing with two renowned wrestlers. In spite of this, his victory of Bronze Medal was greatly celebrated with a spectacular victory procession at the Karad railway station. The procession comprised of 151 bullock carts from the outskirts of Goleshwar to the Mahadeva temple along with the beating of Dhols. The procession continued for about seven long hours. Joy and pride deluged the village of Goleshwar which earned the fame of giving the country its first Olympic champion.
Achievements of Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav
Jadhav joined the police force in the year 1955 as a sub-inspector and won a number of competitions organized by the Police Department. He was honoured at the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi
and was made a part of the torch run. He retired from his service as an Asst. Police Commissioner. Despite of his contributions, Jadhav did not get the respect he deserved and had to fight for his pension. However later, he was honoured with several awards such as the Meghnath Nageshwar Award (in 1990), the Fie Foundation Jeevan Gaurav Award (in 1983), the Arjuna
Award (in 2001) and the Shiv Chhatrapati Award (in 1993). In the year 1960, a sculpture of Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was established in Kolhapur to honour his victory at Olympics. Goleshwar village also houses a wrestling gymkhana for training the aspiring wrestlers. This great soul died on 14th of August 1984 in an accident in Karad.