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London Olympics 2012: The son rises, spreads warmth

MORE TO COME: Bhagwan may have exited the Olympics early, but is confident of a better future

Jai Bhagwan was doted upon by his parents. He returned the favour by entering the ring.

The lure of flashy tracksuits - brightly coloured and differently styled - pulled a 13-year-old Hisar boy into the boxing ring. Jai Bhagwan made the second round of the London Olympics. At 26, you could say he is something of a late bloomer, but the Commonwealth Games gold medal winner was considered a medal hope in London.

Bhagwan was born in a lower middle class family, where his father, a junior-rung employee in the state PWD department was hardly earning enough to fulfill the requirements of his four children. Born after two girls and a lot of prayer, the little Jai was much doted upon. "His mother ensured that he got a special diet. As a kid, Jai was a healthy child, " remembers father Rajpal Singh.

"He thought that if he took up the sport, he would get free tracksuits as well as a government job, " says Rajpal. An impressionable Bhagwan was inspired by Pritam Thakur, son of the landlord and a boxer in the army. An inspired Bhagwan chose to emulate him.

The determined boy started learning the finer points of boxing at Hisar's Mahabir Stadium. He won over 18 golds in various junior and senior nationalranking competitions. Keeping in mind his passion for the game, the family even shifted to the outskirts of the city so that they could rear buffaloes to meet his dietary needs.

However, as an additional economic supplement, Jai Bhagwan joined the Punjab Police as a constable but then shifted to the Railways. Today, employed as an inspector in Haryana Police, the financial troubles may have been taken care of, and it is only boxing that occupies his mind.

But Birmati, Jai Bhagwan's mother, is not a happy woman. The 48-year-old frets that her son now avoids his favourite dishes like kheer and churma prepared by her, because he has to make sure his weight stays below 60 kg. "It is really painful when Jai comes home but eats nothing to maintain his weight. We are hoping that he wins a medal and then I can feed him all his loved dishes, " she laments good-naturedly.

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