The Indian legend achieved numerous success in his illustrious career.
Indian wrestler KD Jadhav climbed the ladder of fame after he became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal. Also known as Pocket Dynamo, he won a bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Doing so, he became the first individual athlete from independent India to win an Olympic medal.
Previously, it was Norman Pritchard who won two silver medals in 1900 under colonial India. However, Jadhav’s journey to the Olympic podium was far from a smooth ride. Despite having a non-sturdy build, he went past all barriers to earn the prestigious Olympic bronze medal. Let’s take a look at five interesting details about the wrestling legend:
5. He named his house ‘Olympic Niwas’
After his historic achievement at the Olympics, KD Jadhav named his house ‘Olympic Niwas’ which means ‘Olympic House’.
He joined the Maharashtra police in 1955 and retired as an Assistant Commissioner Officer in 1983. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1984 due to a motorcycle accident. In 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Arjuna Award.
4. He was rejected to participate in the Annual Sports Meet
Jadhav’s father, Dadasaheb Jadhav, a wrestling coach himself, introduced him to the sport at the tender age of five. While studying at Kolhapur’s Raja Ram College, KD Jadhav competed at state and national level competitions.
Looking at his short and lean physique, a sports teacher once rejected him to participate in the annual sports meet. However, he then approached the principal who eventually allowed him to participate. Jadhav made the best possible use of this opportunity as he beat opponents who were stronger and experienced than him to win the event.
3. He excelled at a wrestling technique called Dhak
His non-sturdy built meant that he could not overcome his opponents using power and strength. Instead, he focused on his technique and excelled in a technique called Dhak in the local language. It’s a technique where a wrestler holds his opponent in a headlock and flings him into the ground. As a result, he started to be referred to as ‘Pocket Dynamo’.
2. Not picked for 1952 Helsinki Olympics
Jadhav’s first taste of the mega event was at the 1948 London Olympics where he finished in sixth place. However, this was an impressive feat achieved by the Indian wrestler who had trained on mud throughout his life.
After the London Olympics, he trained even harder for the next Helsinki Olympics. He even moved up his weight to participate in the 125 lb bantamweight category. Despite making an Olympic appearance before and delivering consistent performances, KD Jadhav was not initially picked for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
He even beat the National flyweight champion, Niranjan Das, twice at Lucknow. When the authorities did not still consider him, he wrote to the Maharaja of Patiala, who arranged the third bout between them.
Jadhav spared no time to take down Das once again and booked his berth at the Helsinki Olympics.
1. First individual athlete to win an Olympic medal
After overcoming several financial difficulties, then the 27-year-old entered the Helsinki Olympics with a lot of focus and determination. After defeating Canadian Adrien Poliquin and Leonardo Basurto of Mexico, he fell short to Rashid Mammadbeyov in the fifth round.
His next bout was against the eventual gold medalist, Shohachi Ishii, who defeated him with a lead of three points. However, his performance helped him bag the bronze medal. Therefore, KD Jadhav became the first individual athlete to bag a medal for India, a feat which lasted for 50 years till Leander Paes won a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Although the Indian hockey team bagged a gold at the Helsinki Games, Jadhav’s victory gathered the primary attention from the Indian contingent.
When he returned, he was welcomed with more than 100 bullock carts who carried the legend from the station to his village, Goleshwar. A 15-minute ride took seven long hours that day.