SRIKAKULAM: A poor auto-rickshaw driver in Srikakulam creates many talented boxers every year without expecting any return from them. He has been training youngsters in the town for the past two decades. He spends four to five hours a day to train his students. Manikyam Uma Maheswara Rao drives an auto-rickshaw in Srikakulam town for a living. Though he had bagged several gold medals at the State and national level, his dream of playing for the country remained unfulfilled due to his poverty.
Rather than getting depressed, he started training boxers in his hometown. His only dream is to see at least one of his students on the international boxing platform. Some of his students bagged gold, silver and bronze medals in state, national, all-India university level. “Due to poverty, I discontinued studies and started driving an auto-rickshaw to feed my family,” said Uma Maheswara Rao. He told TNIE that he underwent boxing training under Laxman Dev alias Anu at Bheemeswara Boxing Club in Srikakulam about 30 years ago.
Rao bagged the gold medal in the senior category in the State-level competition held in 1994. He also bagged the gold medal twice in the junior category in the state-level. “I have also participated in the national-level competition under the senior category twice,” he said. “To feed my family, I had decided not to participate in boxing competitions. I started training young talented boxers from 2000 in Srikakulam. My goal is to see at least one of my students on the international boxing platform. Keeping this in view, I am imparting boxing coaching free of cost in Srikakulam for the past two decades,” he said.
Several of his students have settled in government jobs while a few were selected to the Sports Authority of India (SAI). “My students, including M Govinda Rao, won the gold medal in the national youth boxing competition. Similarly, D Tirupathi was selected as boxing coach for SAI and he participated in all-India national boxing competition thrice. Gonti Hima Sekhar, Muddu Asiri Nayudu, I Venkateswara Rao, I Sreenivas and T Koteswara Rao bagged silver and bronze medals in the senior category national competition. Similarly, P Appala Raju bagged the gold medal four times in the junior category in the state level and bronze medal twice in the all-India university-level boxing competition.
He also participated in the senior category national level competition four times. Similarly, Lalitha, Sravanti and Swathi were selected to the SAI and are undergoing training in the sports hostel,” a proud Maheawara Rao said. “At present, 50 students are there for boxing practice. I attend the training at Arts College ground at 5.30am and 4 pm every day,” he added. The district administration outsourced him as a boxing coach recently.
“I underwent boxing training under Uma and bagged the gold medal four times in the state and bronze medals thrice in the all-India university level competitions,” said Appala Raju, a boxing student. He added that his aim was to play for India on the international platform. “On seeing the miserable condition of the veteran boxer and coach, we have outsourced Uma Maheswara Rao as the boxing coach for District Sports Authority,” said District Sports Development Officer B Sreenivas Kumar. Several students bagged gold and silver medals in the state and national level under the coaching of Uma, he said and described him as the best coach in the District Sports Authority.