Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav
January 15, 1926|
Satara, Maharashtra, India
|Died||August 14, 1984(aged 58)|
|Olympic medal record|
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav (Marathi: श्री. खाशाबा दादासाहेब जाधव, January 15, 1926 – August 14, 1984) was an Indian athlete. He is best known as a wrestler who won a bronze medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He was one of the first athletes from India to win a medal in the Olympics
After Norman Pritchard who won two silver medals in athletics in 1900, Khashaba was the first individual athlete from India to win a medal at the Olympics. In the years before Khashaba, India would only win gold medals in field hockey, a team sport. He is the only Indian Olympic medalist who never received a Padma Award. Khashaba was extremely nimble on his feet, which made him different from other wrestlers of his time. English coach Rees Gardner saw this trait in him and trained him prior to the 1948 Olympic games.
Born in a village called Goleshwar Tal:Karad District Satara in Maharashtra State, KD Jadhav was the youngest of five sons of a renowned wrestler Dadasaheb Jadhav. At the age of 8, he defeated the local champion in just 2 minutes and went on to became the undisputed champion of his area. He did his schooling in Tilak High School in Karad district between 1940–1947. He grew up in a household that lived and breathed wrestling.
His father Dadasaheb was a wrestling coach and he initiated Khashaba into wrestling at the age of five. His wrestling mentors in college were Baburao Balawde and Belapuri Guruji. His success in wrestling did not avoid him from getting good grades. He participated in quit India movement.He resolved to unfurl the tri-color flag in Olympics on Independence Day August 15, 1947.
Starting his wrestling career in 1948, he first came into lime-light at the 1948 London Olympics when he finished 6th in the flyweight category. He was the first Indian to achieve such a high a position in the individual category until 1948. Despite being new to wrestling on a mat as well as the international rules of wrestling, Jadhav’s 6th-place finish was no mean feat at that time.
For the next four years, Jadhav trained even harder for the Helsinki Olympics where he moved up one weight category and participated in the bantamweight category (57 kg) which saw wrestlers from twenty-four different countries. He went on to defeat wrestlers from countries like Mexico, Germany and Canada, before losing his semi-final bout, but he came back stronger to win the bronze medal which made him the first ever individual Olympic medalist of independent India.
Four years later, before the selection for Helsinki Olympics, Jadhav alleged that nepotism among officials prevented him from getting selected for the Olympics. According to him, they intentionally gave him one point less than the eventual winner at the Madras Nationals, and this ruled him out of the Olympics. He did not bow down to corrupt officialdom and appealed to Maharaja of Patiala seeking justice. Fortunately the Maharaja of Patiala loved sports, saw his point, and arranged his entry in Olympic trials where he floored his opponent and won an entry in the Olympics. For the 1952 Games he and his family went around the village begging for contributions to enable him to flirt with destiny.Barrister Balasaheb Khardekar, principal of the Rajaram College, where Jadhav studied, mortgaged his home for Rs 7,000 with the Maratha Bank in Kolhapur, to send his former student to the Olympics. Despite repeated requests to Morarji Desai, the then Chief Minister of Mumbai State for a financial aid of only Rs 4000, there was no help forthcoming from any quarter."He would have easily won the gold at Helsinki," said Sampatrao Jadhav, his cousin who was with Khashababhau when he left for Helsinki to compete in the bantamweight category."It was difficult for him to adjust to the mat surface. After two rolling fouls he missed out on the gold medal which was his for the taking. (The gold was won by Japan's Ishii Shobachi while Russia's Rashid Mamedekov clinched the silver.) Moreover, there was no interval between the two bouts and to fight with two world class wrestlers without appropriate rest was more than a Herculean effort," added Sampatrao. But an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal. And a first is always special. The victory procession at the Karad railway station was a see-it-to-believe scene recalls Sampatrao." A 151 bullock cart procession accompanied by deafening beats of 'dhols'- (drums) right from the outskirts of Goleshwar to the Mahadeva temple which is normally a 15 minute walk took seven long hours that day and no one was complaining. We have not seen joyous scenes like that either before or after that day. There was a feeling of pride and every villager was basking in that moment of glory. Khashababhau brought the small village of Goleshwar, earlier a dot on the map of India, to the fore. The whole world recognized Goleshwar as the village which gave India its first-ever Olympic medalist."
Although India’s hockey team collected a gold at the Helsinki games, Jadhav was the primary attraction when India’s contingent returned home after the Olympics. Jadhav was facilitated by his college and all the 'talims' or 'akhadas' of Kolhapur. The principal of Shahaji Law College, Kolhapur, Prof Dabholkar mortgaged his own house to fund Jadhav’s participation in the Olympics. Jadhav had not forgotten this favour and on his return, he organized a wrestling competition in which he took part himself. He won several bouts in these competitions and handed over the prize money to his professor and persuaded him to use the money to buy back his house.
In 1953 Japan wrestlers toured India and he defeated the world champion Unemori and continued his winning streak.
In 1955, he joined the police force as a sub-inspector where he won several competitions held within the Police department and also performed National duties as a sports instructor. Despite serving the police department for twenty-seven years and retiring as an Asst. Police Commissioner, Jadhav had to fight for pension later on in his life. For years, he was neglected by the sports federation and had to live the final stages of his life in poverty. He died tragically in a road accident in 1984.
In 2010, a wrestling venue at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex in New Delhi was named in Jadhav's honor.
He did receive recognition posthumously in the form of awards, with Arjuna Award in 2001 being the most prominent.
Olympic veer K D Jadhav by Sanjay Sudhane, National Book Trust.
International Wrestler and now producer Sangram U Singh is all set with his plans of producing a film on Jadhav ji after taking the rights from his son Ranjit Jadhav. The film will be based on the life of a wrestler Khashaba Jadhav, who won independent India’s first Olympic medal in 1952. Jadhav ji has been an idol of Sangram ji since his childhood and Sangram wants to give his Shradhanjali now to his idol by making a film on him. Confirming the news through an official statement about the sportsman, Sangram says, “He has quite a noteworthy journey and earned our country its first international medal but in time, his name and story was something that was lost. He is a hero who deserves to be remembered and honoured. We will work hard to do justice to the portrayal of his achievements.”  The script for the film is currently being worked upon.
- India Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (YAS), "Proud Moments of Indian Sports," "Olympics Bronze Medal, Helsinki 1952"; excerpt, "The victory procession at the Karad railway station was a see-it-to-believe scene. "There were dhols along with a 151 bullock cart procession right from the outskirts of Goleshwar to the Mahadeva temple which is normally a 15 minute walk. It took seven long hours that day ..."; retrieved 2012-7-20.
- Shariff, Faisal."Khashba Jhadhav, the hero we owe an apology to ...," Rediff.com; retrieved 2012-7-20.
- "CWG wrestling venue re-christened as K. D. Jhadav Stadium," The Hindu (India). July 6, 2010; retrieved 2012-7-20.
- "Sangram Singh all set to make a biopic on legendary KD Jadhav".