Indian boxer Birju Sah, Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist, dies

The light flyweight boxer was the first to win medals at both Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 1994.

By Ali Asgar Nalwala
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Indian boxer Birju Sah, who won bronze medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 1994, died in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand on Saturday night. He was 48.

Birju Sah, born in 1974, was the first Indian boxer to win medals at both Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.

Birju Sah’s first major international success came at the 1993 Asian junior championships in Bangkok, Thailand, at the age of 19. He won the bronze medal in the light flyweight (45-48kg) category. 

The success on the continental stage was noticed by the Indian boxing federation which selected Birju Sah for the senior national camp.

Next year at the Commonwealth Games held in Victoria, Canada, Birju Sah looked set for gold but was defeated by the eventual champion Abdurahman Ramadhani of Kenya in the semi-finals. He had to settle for bronze.

His purple patch continued at the Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan, and once again finished on the podium to create history for India.

Birju Sah, though once ranked seventh in the world rankings, struggled to make ends meet after his retirement. He worked as a security guard in the Tatanagar area in Jamshedpur but stayed connected with his sport by coaching underprivileged kids from nearby areas for free.

Birju Sah is survived by his wife, daughter and son.

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