How former boxer turned auto driver Abid Khan resurrected his coaching career

Abid Khan's plight drew the attention of professional boxer Vijender Singh and Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar, who offered to help the struggling former coach.

By Utathya Nag

Once an accomplished boxer, Abid Khan, now working as a loader and driver at a Chandigarh grain market, was convinced that his boxing journey was over. But the sport he loves pulled him right back in the most unusual of ways.

A multiple-time North Indian boxing championship medallist during the Eighties, the Chandigarh-based pugilist tried to transition into coaching after completing a diploma course from National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala in 1988.

But after training Army personnel in boxing for five years, he found himself out of a job and had to head off to Saudi Arabia to work as a taxi driver to make ends meet.

In 2004, Abid Khan returned to India and drove a pick-up auto until his vehicle was scrapped. Since then, the 60-year-old Khan has been earning a living as a loader and auto driver for a private firm, picking up and transporting sacks of grain at a Chandigarh market.

“All these years made me believe that in this country, poor sports-persons only suffer. Boxing is for the poor and middle class, only the rich can play sports like tennis, badminton and cricket,” Abid Khan told the Indian Express.

Abid Khan, though, rediscovered his love for boxing through a very unusual route.

A recent video of his life's struggles reported by an independent journalist on his YouTube channel Sportsgaon brought the forgotten boxer and coach back into the limelight.

The video went viral and drew attention from the Indian boxing fraternity, including 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medal winner Vijender Singh, Commonwealth Games champion Manoj Kumar and Dronacharya Award-winning coach Shiv Singh.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag star Farhan Akhtar, whose boxing-centric Bollywood film Toofan is due to release soon, was also touched by Abid Khan’s plight.

The mass attention from the general public as well as the Indian boxing fraternity washed away the pain of years of dejection Abid Khan had faced.

The veteran boxer, now inspired, has taken it upon himself to pass on his knowledge to underprivileged children. He is back coaching youngsters at the park near his rehabilitation colony flat in Dhanas, Chandigarh, taking time out of his day job as a loader and a driver.

“It’s the result of the motivation and support of all the sports lovers that I am coaching children in whatever way I can. In the past too, I wanted to pursue coaching but there was no motivation or support,” Abid said.

“I am glad that people have got to know about me and I want to show the same passion in coaching as I used to show while boxing in my younger days.

"It’s good to know that people like Vijender, Manoj and Farhan Akhtar have come to support me and when I get to talk with them, I will tell them that they will get to see champions from my coaching,” Abid Khan added.

Lead photo: Sports Gaon YouTube channel