Nakul Shivani/ New Delhi
Mohammad Luckman Ali, 24, was crowned champion in the 82 kg category in the Uttar Pradesh State Wrestling Championship held in Meerut on Sunday. A first-year student of Masters in Social Work at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, Luckman won the gold medal to push him closer to his dream of representing the country at the “big international events”, as he puts it.
Speaking to Awazthevoice.in after his victory, Luckman said, “Yes this is one more medal in my cabinet, but I will not rest till I have won a medal for my country at the Olympics.”
A resident of Moharka Patti village in Gajraula district of Western UP, Luckman took up wrestling on the insistence of his late father, Chajju Ali who was influenced by his colleagues to push one of his children into sports. A former Railway employee, Ali during his posting in Garh Mukteshwar came across many sportsmen who had found jobs because of their achievements in wrestling.
“My father always came back home with stories of successful sportsmen in his department.” That inspired Luckman. He started practicing at the local mud akhara about ten kilometres from his home.
His exploits at the village-level championships caught the attention of elders in the area. “The village coaches told me to craft my skills on mats where international-level players practice,” he says. That brought him to Delhi and admission to the hallowed halls of the Chhatrasal stadium in 2018.
“It is on these mats that Olympians and other greats of the game practice for hours to bring glory to the country. My eyes widened when I first stepped on to them,” says Luckman with excitement of a young boy who has just earned his first chocolate.
Hours of practice with wrestlers who have worn the India jersey and under the guidance of coaches who handhold world class players, took Luckman to Thailand last year where he represented the country in an international competition and finished 6th in his category.
Luckman is today a role-model in his village. “Many parents call me and tell me to inspire their children to take up wrestling in the hope that they too will earn a name for themselves,” he says. But who is Luckman’s role-model? “Sushil Kumar and the Russian olympic medalist Abdul Rashid. I want to win many medals at the highest stage of performance for athletes.”
The newly crowned UP state champion is currently preparing for the Khelo India Wrestling Championship scheduled to be held in Varanasi in May. In July, there is Asian Indoor Championship. But the big ticket he is eyeing is the 2024 Paris Olympics. “If not Paris, then 2028 Olympics is definitely where I want to fly India’s flag high,” he says before rushing back to the mat to master his wrestling technique.
Source: Awaz The Voice