The first coach of the Indian award-winning Dronacher in boxing, OP Bhardwaj, died on Friday after battling long-term illnesses and age-related problems here.
He was 82 years old and had tragically lost his wife Santos to ill health about 10 days ago.
Bhardwaj was awarded the highest national honor in coaching together with Bhalchandra Bhaskar Bhagwat (wrestling) and OM Nambiar (athletics) when he was introduced in 1985.
“For many days he felt unwell with many health problems and was hospitalized. Age was a factor and he was shocked by the loss of his wife about 10 days ago,” TL Gupta, a close family friend and former boxing coach, told PTI .
Bhardwaj was India’s national boxing coach from 1968 to 1989 and also served as national coach.
Under his leadership, Indian students won medals at the Asian Games, the British Community Games and the South Asian Games.
A pioneer in Indian boxing, he was the first chief sports instructor at the National Institute of Sports in India in Patiala.
“He started his career at the Army School of Physical Training in Pune and became a good service coach. In 1975, when the NIS came up with the offer of coaching diplomas in boxing, Mr Bhardwaj was chosen to start the course,” Gupta said. .
In 2008, Bhardwaj had even learned some boxing techniques from a member of Congress Rahul Gandhi for several months.
“He was a dynamic man. I remember in those days when there were no computers and hardly anyone knew how to write, he bought a typewriter from a trip to Russia,” Gupta said.
“He would write letter after letter to the authorities demanding better facilities for NIS boxers using this typewriter. He wrote with only one finger because there was no formal writing training,” recalls Gupta, who is retiring as chief instructor. from NIS a few years ago.
Former general secretary of the national federation (Retd) PKM Raja, during which he was national coach, said Bhardwaj is highly respected for his contribution to the sport.
“He was a legend in the field of services. A truly remarkable coach and also a very impressive person. It is unfortunate that in the last few years his numerous health problems have severely limited him,” he said.
Gupta also said that Bhardwaj has a fierce personality that often comes to the fore in any perceived bad attitude towards boxers.
“I remember, after the Asian Boxing Championships in 1980 in what was then Bombay, the team came back with two gold, five silver and three bronze medals. Their accommodation on their return to Patiala was not up to them,” he said.
“Mr Bhardwaj has been hired to fight this with the authorities and to ensure that boxers receive better accommodation. At that time, he gave direction to the sport,” he added.