Dhyanchand’s life and time revealed in a book

November 19th, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Thirty six years after Dhyanchand’s magical stick-work left an indelible imprint at the heart of German empire in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, his son Ashok Kumar realised that his father’s wizardry not only stunned Adolf Hitler but also won fans across the world.When Kumar went to play his maiden Olympics at Munich in 1972 he was carrying the burden of expectations of legacy left by his iconic father.

He recalls a moment while training with the team when he realised how great was his father.

“We were training when a car stopped and some people came out of it. They spoke to our coach K.D. Singh Babu who then called me and said somebody wants to meet me. When I went closer, I saw an old man lying on a stretcher in the car,” Kumar says in the book Hockey Ka Jadugar, penned by Dhyanchand’s daughter-in-law Meena Umesh, released here Wednesday.

“The old man said, ‘I am a big fan of your father. I saw him play in Berlin in 1936 and when I heard that his son has come here, I decided to meet you’.

“He had brought paper cuttings and clippings of my father from that Berlin Olympics which he had kept very safely. I was so moved and at that moment I realised my father’s popularity outside India,” Kumar recollected.

In the 1936 Olympics, Hitler was so impressed with Dhyanchand that he asked him to join his army as a General. In fact, Hitler was so infuriated seeing his team made to look helpless by Dhyanchand and his younger brother Roop Singh, that he left the final match midway.

These and many anecdotes of Dhyanchand’s life have been weaved in the book written by Meena, who is a history lecturer at Navodaya Vidyalaya in Jhansi.

“There are many facets of my father in-law’s life which I thought that people should know. Everybody knows about his achievements but I have dealt with his personality and his family in this book,” she said at the launch of the book by sports minister M.S. Gill.

But it was indeed a shame that though sacrificing much for the nation, in his last days the Dhyanchand had to go through a financial crunch.

“Even on the deathbed, he spoke about hockey. He was so depressed because hockey was on a downslide in India,” she said.

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