“Yes, You are the champion….in this and every fight of your life!” The warmth of the voice and that of the hand on his shoulder melted his heart and two tears twinkled on his either eyes! Champion he was, indeed! Amid the deafening voice of claps and “Hurrays!” his past life revolved in that fraction of moment! A life in which he was a small boy from village to today he is a boxing champion and a model and an actor too!
Being born in a small almost unknown village of Jeend, Haryana, in the northern part of India, he grew up just like other child of the village, playing in the lush green fields and breathing in the fresh air, swimming in the nearby river with his friends after the school time and strengthening the bond with his brothers, cousins and elders during Goths- the rural name for family get-togethers and sort of weekend parties!
Living in the joint family has its own advantages. His childhood was surrounded between many cushions of relations and care. Though he shared a good rapport with every member of the family, he shared a special bond with his uncle who was an international boxer too! His Uncle was his boxing coach who can be credited for producing a number of excellent wrestlers and boxers from Haryana state. The seed of boxing was sewn into his heart…quite effortlessly.
“Sandeep, you need to go to Pune for further studies”! His father’s voice surprised him and left him finding words for some time. Since his father was in the army it was his time to stay in an army environment with the boarding to start a new and responsible life at the mere age of 13 years.
Moving to Pune- a fast developing metro city of India was brought a new turn in his life. As he reached Pune the first impression was chaotic and overwhelming for him. Meeting new people each day, trying to settle in a new place well was his first priority. The people were different and spoke more English than their own language. Even their local dialect was Marathi and not the Haryanavi or Hinglish was way different. However, he was lucky enough to find some helpful friends in his army school compound that helped him.
With his complete sincerity in his studies focused on settling well along with studies and boxing. Being determined he kept facing all the challenges that a rural boy had to face during the initial days of this change. Soon he regained his confidence. He was average in studies but couldn’t find the best ways to enjoy his spare time and holidays. There were no lush green fields, huge lakes or even his old friends with whom he can joy his holidays.
His old passion came calling and he started his boxing practice once again and he managed to find a quiet place not very far from the hostel where they would fight a match while 4-5 other friends watched them.
Before Sandeep Nain could understand, the hobby of boxing had now turned into his obsession. He wanted to achieve milestone success in the field of boxing. So he started his professional training devoting most part of his day learning kicks, punches and other techniques of the game.
Someone suggested him to start on a small level and then gradually climb up the stairs of success. So Sandeep started reading the newspapers looking for the sub-junior boxing competitions.
One day he came across something he had been finding so eagerly- a Sub Junior competition was to be held in Assam and upon further investigation, he found that he was the ideal candidate to take the part in it.
The year was 2007 and the fight was really tough. He wasn’t even sure that he could be able to stand the hefty boxer who was standing in front of him. But determined to prove his mettle at any cost, Sandeep realized that it was the chance for him to stand up to the challenge and emerge as a winner. He quickly thought of various techniques of attacks and defense and calmed his mind. The first in the series was…”Never lose the confidence and calm!”
The bell rang and Sandeep started the fight deliberately as his coach had told him that the one who starts the boxing tends to have the higher hand. He also kept two other key talismans told by has coached- Start the fight and then allow your opponent to drain out his maximum energy while preserving your own for the last moment. So instead of punching, he relied on defense techniques. The match was tough and most of the defense techniques of Sandeep failed to work. Punch on punch… he had become a punching bag – a punching bag with life that can feel pain!
At that moment he remembered another thing that his coach had told him “Welcome the pain or at least don’t feel it”. He could welcome that excruciating pain but he tried not to feel it. To his amazement that was not that difficult! Once the opponent had strained his energy (while Sandeep Nain was preserving it) he thought about the time margin and started punching him strategically so as to make him lie on the ground till the Referee finishes the counting! Sandeep was determined. He took the opponent by surprise and finally he succeeded. It was the first boxing that won him a gold medal which made him realize that this is his life and his passion is now his career.
He now started devoting more time and attention to his training. And soon he came across another competition and won the silver medal.
However, he couldn’t feel the same satisfaction that he felt while winning his first match. He was completely determined that his next achievement would be an international match and after successfully eying the new techniques he was sure that he could also win something in the international match too!
He discussed the same with his coach and the coach started training him specifically to face and win the international match. It was his coach who told him about the next international match that was to be held in Kazakhstan. It was the first time in his life that he was leaving the country.
While he was full of excitement; he was not oblivious to his responsibilities as he was presenting India in that competition. As he reached the boxing ring, a fear shook him. The huge Kazak wrestler was a formidable figure and he was every inch the way Sandeep though him to be- tough, burly and wiry.
He seemed to be determined to fail all the techniques that he has learned so far. He was enjoying being a punching bag…not even caring to defend himself. In fact, it was the first time that the opponent was using the same techniques that he has tried so far on others. Ultimately the Kazakhstan wrestler was able to defeat Sandeep quite effortlessly. He was feeling disheartened and was too ashamed to return back to the country! At that very moment, he decided to get a medal in the next international match.
In 2010 he took part in another competition and was able to win a Gold medal- another milestone achievement for him. It was enough to strengthen his determination to win a medal in the international match.
In 2011 his coach told him to take part in another boxing competition that was to be held n Armenia. He went there with full determination and he was prepared to face every challenge to win a medal. He owed a medal to India and during the entire fight, this was the thing that kept him guiding. Blood, pain, fear and massive strength of the opponent didn’t matter for him. The medal was his and he had to claim it somehow! Even the opponent was surprised to see such a stubborn strength! He wasn’t able to face it, wasn’t prepared to prevail over it. In the end, Sandeep was able to claim the medal that he owed to his nation, his people!
His studies were going on as well as his boxing training. However, a tragedy struck during that time. In December 2011, he got heartbreaking news that his paternal aunty had burned herself! It was news that sapped him off his strength. Somehow he managed to leave for the village and the things there were really disheartening and they got worse! Not only his paternal aunty was very serious but also his uncle thought that there should be someone from the family who should be involved in this incident. The uncle went to the police and lodges a complaint against the entire family and before one can actually think of, all family members were jailed!
Every single person whom he loved was in the prison and it was his own uncle who had sent them all behind the bars! At one such disheartening moment his sports spirit sprang up and he realized that this way nothing can be solved. He didn’t have the power to change the things as he wasn’t acquainted with any influential person in the village and he was now an outsider. So, there is no way he could fight with his uncle.
In that League, he was determined to win nothing less than the Gold medal. He tried his best techniques and this time around he had already sharpened his skills and techniques. He thought of his opponent as the tough challenges he was facing through his life and that made him perform his best. Though at the stating the opponent proved to be too powerful for him to win over, at the last Nain managed to defeat him. The excellent performance and his polished fighting techniques earned him a Gold Medal in this competition.
I am really proud of you! Pooja Bhatt said, the famous Start and producer of India who owned the team! But that was not enough. She had really discovered a hidden talent. Soon he was contacted by asking if he was fine with the modeling assignment! Sandeep couldn’t believe himself….! Without waiting a moment he accepted the opportunity. It was the first time that he realized that he really looked great….the muscular body sharp features and a determined face along with impressive body language He was every inch a model!
The life was smiling again and he soon got the news that his family was now released and many family matters have been settled now! He went to his village and also delivered this positive news that he had won the Gold Medal and was also became a model.
During that time his acting talent was also discovered by one of the directors’ during one of the modeling assignment. He was approached for the audition that he gave and soon he started singing too! The best thing was that he was singing in his own dialect- Haryanvi! His Coach Uncle also encouraged him to prepare other aspirants and benefit them with his skills. So Sandeep opened his own academy. However, he never intended to make it a means of income (he already was a rich and a successful person) but to prepare others to achieve what he has achieved after such deep, tedious and painful incidences!
Today he lives in Mumbai and owns a successful career and a fulfilling life! It shows the value of determination and courage and most importantly sports skills with winning 2 international medals and 5 national medals till the age of 27 years. He also has his Boxing academy run by his uncle in Haryana.
This story is edited by Jitendra Bhojwani.