India has produced some incredible sports stars over the years in every category. They have made the nation proud on the basis of their exemplary performances on the global as well as national podiums. However, not all of them have gotten their due. Recently, Vinod Kambli said that financially he is in dire straits and he is surviving on the meagre pension given by the BCCI. The former cricketer immediately received substantial financial aid. But not all are as fortunate as the Mumbai Southpaw. There are several talented, world-class athletes who have led a life of indifference and impoverishment after their retirements. Today, we will go through such unlucky national and international heroes.
Major Dhyan Chand (Hockey)
The world of sports, not just hockey, would be incomplete without the legacy of Major Dhyan Chand. One of the finest hockey players of his era he could conjure up magic with his hockey stick. With more than 400 goals to his credit, he had a divine position in the sport. However, despite all his accomplishments, he led a life immersed in poverty after his retirement and died in a helpless state.
Paan Singh Tomar (Steeplechase)
He cannot be an unknown figure, especially for the people in North India, courtesy of 2012 critically-acclaimed and commercially successful movie based on him. Paan Singh Tomar was a 7-time Steeplechase champion during the 1950s & ’60s and served in the Indian Army as well. His record of nine minutes and two seconds in the sport is yet to be bettered even after a decade. However, he became a victim of circumstances which pushed him towards dacoity and was eventually shot dead by inspector Mahendra Pratap Singh.
Mohd Yousuf Khan (Football)
One of the finest players in the 60s for India, Mohd Yousuf Khan had a great understanding of the sport and was a soccer prodigy. Due to his athleticism on the field, he even earned the pseudonym ‘the bearded horse’. Khan played a decisive part in India’s win in the 1962 Asian Games and was even honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1966. But he lived in abject poverty after calling it quits and, to make it worse, he was afflicted by Parkinson’s disease and breathed his last due to a severe heart attack.
Shanti Devi (Kabaddi)
She used to be a national pride in her prime as a kabaddi player. Shanti Devi has won several honours nationally: National Kabaddi Championships in 1981 & 1982, Silver in Guwahati National League and Bronze in the All India Women National Kabaddi Championship. But now, the 40-year-old is selling vegetables to look after her family members as she has no other means to generate revenue.
Maria Irudayam (Carrom)
Known as the Sachin Tendulkar of carrom, Maria Irudayam has won national as well as international competitions. In 1982 he triumphed at National Championship and in 1991 he got the World title as well. Then he reclaimed the internal honour in 1995 as well. At present, he struggles hard to operate his venture, the Periyamedu Carrom Practice Centre in Chennai, and even the basic necessities come at a premium for him.