Wu-Shoo Journey

He did odd jobs to fuel his passion for playing martial arts at international arenas. Zubair Sofi talks to Ajaz Hassan, who won a gold medal in  martial arts at Armenia recently 

Ajaz Hassan, 27, a resident of Aloocha Bagh in Srinagar, has played twenty-five nationals in a different category of martial arts. Recently Hassan clinched a gold medal in Wu –Shoo International Championship in Armenia.

In 1999, Ajaz, then 9, joined Wu-Shoo classes at Indoor Stadium, Srinagar. “I dedicate myself to learn the game,” says Ajaz.

Next year, Ajaz played district championship in Wu-Shoo in Polo Ground, Srinagar and won a silver medal. “It was my first achievement,” said Ajaz.

Same year Ajaz played his first state-level championship in Jammu and again won a silver medal. This win helped Ajaz get selected for the national championship.

In 2002 he played his first nationals in Jabalpur and won a bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Ajaz tried his luck in other types of martial arts like Kickboxing.

In 2006, he won a gold medal in an international championship at Mumbai.

Despite medals and appreciations, Ajaz has to face hurdles in the initial stage of his career. “My parents were against my career choice initially. But once I started showing promising growth they changed their mind,” said Ajaz. “My father is an inspiration for me.”

Ajaz’s father Ghulam Hassan Sheikh, 55, took voluntary retirement from the army in 1990 and now works as a security guard with a bank. “He was not financially sound,” said Ajaz. “He bought an auto-rickshaw to support us.”

In order to help his father, Ajaz started working as a salesman. “Even our collective earnings were not enough to support me and my sister’s education,” said Ajaz. “That is why I started teaching kids to earn some extra money.”

Ajaz, who has spent most of his life in a rented accommodation, recently shifted to his house after his father got a loan on his pension.

However, despite hardships, Ajaz managed to fulfill his dreams. “In 2014, I went to Malaysia for an international championship.”

In the same year, Ajaz got an invitation for participation in Wu-Shoo Federation Cup. “The trials were held in Jammu. I was selected. I won the two bouts and clinched the bronze medal,” Ajaz recalls.

In 2016, Ajaz was selected to participate in International Championship of Wu-Shoo in Hong Kong. “It was postponed and shifted to Armenia. But I had no money to cover my expenses,” recalls Ajaz, who needed Rs 1.50 lakh.

When his father learned about his financial issues, he knocked at the bank’s door, asking people to sponsor his son. “I was really sad to see my father literally beg for my sponsorship,” said Ajaz. “After a few attempts, they agreed to sponsor my trip.”

After four months training in Delhi Ajaz flew to Armenia.

“I won against opponents from Iran, Armenia and Thailand,” said Ajaz. “It is because of my father’s prayers and efforts that I could win at international level.”

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