Gurbux Singh ||SIKH VOGUE||
- Edited by sikh vogue web desk
- Jun 06, 2018
Olympic gold-medallist and former Indian hockey team captain Gurbux Singh had the calm of Mahatma Gandhi and aggression of Netaji Subash on the field. He was part of the Tokyo Olympics 1964 when India reclaimed the gold medal from Pakistan. Gurbux Singh was a part of “second golden era” that went on till the Asian Games triumph in 1968 before the game’s gradual decline.
Gurbux Singh became a regular member of the Indian national team when the country’s three-decades-long legacy of eminence in international hockey was in decline. This chronicle of his life’s story documents an important period in the history of the sport the years when the Indian team regained its place at the apex, first winning back the Olympic gold at Tokyo before going on to annex the gold medal at the Bangkok Asian Games for the very first time.
This book also recounts the end of that run of success, with the tragic tale of India’s stumbling at the Mexico City Olympics. Gurbux Singh also looks back at the Montreal Olympics debacle, where he coached a national team that was grossly under-prepared for the international transition to artificial turf pitches.
This is not merely Gurbux Singh’s story, but also a story of Indian hockey, its stalwarts, and their influences on the author: the genius of Dhyan Chand; the supreme artistry of K D Singh (Babu); the greatness of Leslie Claudius and his influence on Gurbux Singh’s technique and attitude; the legendary Balbir Singh Sr, one of the greatest goal scorers India has ever produced; the exemplary sportsmanship of Udham Singh; and Gurbux Singh’s friendship and rivalry with Prithipal Singh.
This is also a tale made all too familiar by the Partition of India: the tale of a family displaced from the land of their forefathers in West Punjab, a man forced to travel to distant and strange lands to earn his livelihood, and the warmth and acceptance of a city that takes in all comers and makes them her own. Of his adopted home, Gurbux Singh still writes movingly and simply:”Kolkata, I love you”.
Gurbux Singh was born in Peshawar in 1935. After attending Holkar College Indore, he graduated from Punjab University before heading to Calcutta in 1956 to learn the motor parts trade. He served as a customs officer for nearly ten years, playing hockey during that time for both his adopted state of Bengal and the national team.
A member of the all-conquering 1963-1966 Indian team, which won the gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games, Gurbux Singh’s last international venture was as joint captain at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where India took the bronze. He was the coach of the 1976 Montreal Olympics team and later served as national selector and India team manager.
He received the Arjuna Award in 1967, and the government of West Bengal conferred the Banga Bibhushan Award on him in 2013.
At 82, Gurbux Singh continues to be associated with the automobile industry and is a former president of the national auto dealers’ body.
He currently writes an expert column on hockey for various publications and websites.
Former journalist Subroto Sirkar collaborated on the writing of this book. He had worked with Gurbux Singh as far back as in 1972, and first covered National hockey in 1973, at Bombay. He reported the World Cup in 1994, at Sydney, and wrote Player of the Century, the signal tribute to Dhyan Chand, in the official FIH journal World Hockey, in 2000.
1935 born in Peshawar, NWFP
1955 In Madhya Bharat squad at National Hockey Championship Madras
1956 Graduated. Moved to Calcutta
1957 First Nationals for Bengal, at Bombay
1961-62 In winning India team at Ahmedabad
1963 Vice-captain, In winning India team at Lyons,
1964 In Gold-winning Indian team at Tokyo Olympics
1966 Captain, winning Indian team at Hamburg
1966 Vice-captain, in Gold-winning Indian team at Bangkok Asian Games
1967 Received Arjuna Award of Government of Indian
1967 Captain, India team in the pre-Olympic meet, London
1968 Joint captain, Indian team at Mexico City Olympics (bronze medal)
1968 Named in World XI
1972 16th And last Nationals for Bengal, at Jullunder
1973 First appointed national selector(3 spells, last in 2003-2008)
1974 Appointed coach to the French federation
1976 Coach, Indian team at Montreal Olympics
1982 Umpire at New Delhi Asian Games
1983 India team manager, Champions Trophy, Karachi
1991 Received National Unity Award
2000 Indian team manager, Azlan Shah meet, Kuala Lumpur
2013 Mother Teresa Award
2013 Received Banga Bibhushan award of West Bengal Government