For nearly seven years, former boxer Ram Singh lived with the taint of being allegedly involved in a multi-crore drug racket. On Wednesday, the 37-year-old heavyweight boxer was acquitted by a special CBI court in Mohali.
Ram Singh was the 16th person to be arrested by Punjab Police in the drug case after the arrest of NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon and Arjuna awardee wrestler Jagdish Singh Bhola in March 2013. A month later, Ram Singh got bail. Beijing Olympics bronze-medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh got a clean chit in the case after being questioned by the police. But for Ram Singh, the trauma had just begun.
On Wednesday, an emotional Ram Singh headed to Patiala along with his wife Mandeep Kaur and nine-year-old daughter Harwin Kaur. His trainees at the Public College in Samana, where he has been coaching while on bail, were the some of the first to call and congratulate him.
“Whatever was written in my destiny had to happen. But I am happy that the struggle has ended. I am feeling relieved. This is the start of a new life for me. My trainees and friends had faith in me and everyone knew that I was innocent,” Ram Singh said.
Singh, who was the silver medallist in the junior nationals of 2002, was a regular in the Indian camp where he was the sparring partner for Vijender Singh for nearly a decade. Ram Singh made a name for himself by winning medals in Czech Republic and Kazakhtan in 2009. However, his hopes of winning more medals came crashing down when he was arrested in March 2013 and spend 23 days in jail.
During this period, he ended up having health issues. A thyroid issue saw him put on 20 kilograms and he tipped the scales at 126 kg. While he tried to battle his weight gain he was also trying to make both ends meet. “The first thing I did was to sell my Ford Ikon car as I did not have any money to support my family. I worked as a spare-parts salesman. I travelled to Delhi to buy spare parts for tractors and cars and would sell them in different markets in Patiala. After three months, I got to know about an opening for a coach in Samana,” Ram Singh said.
His life took a turn for the better when he started coaching budding boxers. “To get back to boxing and coach youngsters was a great feeling.” Over the last six years, he has trained 300 boxers, including 2015 national champion Rajwinder Kaur, apart from last year’s national silver medallist Himashu Sharma. What hurt him during this difficult period was that the boxers he trained with at the national camp, turned their backs on him. He didn’t even get a courtesy call.
“That made me realise that duniya matlab di, zamana paise da. (People are selfish and the world runs after money),” he said. Even while coaching, Ram Singh had to make regular court visits but the joy of seeing his wards progress gave him the spirit to soldier on.
“Twenty four of my trainees have got a government job. Last year my trainee Himasnhu Sharma won the silver in nationals. His mother works as a house help. Whatever I earned or borrowed from my friends was spent on my daughter’s school fee and training of kids like Himanshu. Perhaps, it was their good wishes which helped me. Now I am hopeful of getting my job back (with the Punjab police). Seeing these kids win medals was my biggest consolation during these six years and even though I could not win more medals in my career, their medals are my medals,” he added.