Hyderabad: The small hall near the playground at Nizam College in Hyderabad used to buzz with activity in the 80s and early 90s. Toiling in the hall with dozens of pugilists was the hard working coach Emani Chiranjeevi, shouting instructions and keeping an eagle eye for any mistake committed by them. The training was strenuous and he went through the process with equanimity and full concentration.
Chiranjeevi was a coach who honed the skills, polished rough edges and instilled the truest basics for an upcoming boxer. “I believed in hard work and discipline. These are two important elements in any sport,’’ said the 75-year-old coach.
Regarded as a no-nonsense man, Chiranjeevi came through the process. As a young pugilist, he was bantam weight champion in 1965 and then was featherweight champion in 1976 in the Services championship. A warrant officer, he fought his last bout in 1982 before becoming a coach in 1983. His first posting in Sports Authority of India (SAI) was in Chennai before being transferred to Osmania University and he made Nizam College the hub of boxing.
“It was good to see many young boxers in action those days. The small boxing room was full of aspiring boxers. They showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm,’’ said Chiranjeevi, who produced 21 internationals.
Among his trainees who went on to shine in national and international tournaments were Devanand, Saad Farooq, Kiran Sagar, H Srinivas among others. “Devanand was an exemplary pugilist from Chennai in light weight. He was known as knock-out king. For three years, he was named as the best boxer in the National championship. There were some exciting boxers from Visakhapatnam also,’’ he added.
Chiranjeevi was also the chief national coach for two years (1989-90). He accompanied the Indian team to Commonwealth and SAF Games. “Over the years, boxing has always given good medals to the Indian team in any big event. It is one sport that has rarely failed in international events,’’ he said.
Known for his passion for boxing, particularly after his wife’s death in 1986, Chiranjeevi has dedicated his life to this sport. “I feel privileged to coach many young pugilists. I think my best phase was in 80s and 90s where the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh excelled in the Nationals. We were a force to reckon with and we came third after Services and Railways three times. That is the history now, as far as the State’s performance in Nationals is concerned. The medals have dried up in the nationals. Of course, we have boxers Nikhat Zahreen and Hussumuddin to keep the boxing hopes alive in the State,’’ he concluded.
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