While cricket and football hog most of the limelight, other less popular sports like taekwondo, kickboxing, martial arts and gymnastics are gaining ground in the valley. And one of these sports gave Kashmir its first international gold medalist in Gull AlamGeer.
Gull, who hails from the Chattabal area of Srinagar city started his sporting career as a gymnast at the age of eight. Later he took up other sports like taekwondo, Wu-Shu (a Chinese martial arts form), kickboxing and karate-do. The talented sportsman has won several medals and tournaments since he took up the sports.
In his early teens, Gull won a gold medal in a local taekwondo championship which was played at Biscoe School Srinagar. “I won my first gold medal at a local level tournament in which I participated and represented my school. Since that day I got very attracted to the game and haven’t looked back since,” he says. Gull started practising when he was in the sixth standard. He won his first national-level event in the year 1999 in a tournament played at Sher-e-Kashmir Indoor Stadium Srinagar. In the year 2004, he represented Jammu and Kashmir in Tamil Nadu for Kickboxing and won there too.
Gull also won a silver medal at the national kickboxing championship held at Bangalore. He participated in his first-ever international Championship in kickboxing in the 9th princess cup at Bangkok in 2006. Gull represented the country in that tournament and won his first international gold medal. Players from more than 40 countries were participating in the tournament but the gold went to Gull.
In another kick-boxing tournament of International level Gull won a silver medal. The tournament was played in Mumbai. Gull also won another gold medal in taekwondo in 2008 in a tournament played in Bhutan.
Gull has also won several karate-do championships. Gull who is a black belt in karate has also played the prestigious Mouthy Championship which is considered the hardest form of taekwondo.
Gull who has shined in his every sport he has played is now working hard to contribute to the sports that brought him recognition and laurels. He is coaching young players in the sport and trying to “nourish the young and budding talent” of the valley. Gull has recently started a boxing school in Srinagar which he has named “King of the Ring Boxing club”. Gull says that he has started to coach many boys of the Srinagar city at the club and he has also got clubs affiliation from Canada. “I started this club just a few months back and I am coaching many boys there who want to play these games. Many boys are getting attracted to the games like taekwondo, martial arts, kickboxing and karate and there is a lot of talent in the boys. They just need proper guidance and that is what I am providing them,” says Gull.
Gull who himself has proven his metal in these games now wants his students to make a name in these sports. “Cricket, football and volleyball are not the only games one should play. There are many other games in which one can make his or her career and the games like taekwondo and martial arts are new to the valley youth but there is good scope to progress in these games.”
Gull who has also been the torchbearer for the 2011 Delhi Commonwealth games in Srinagar also wants the government to contribute towards these games as they are contributing towards cricket and football.
A hero in his game, Gull is now working hard to let his game live in the valley.