Kundu, 23, was among the three Indian wrestlers who won Greco-Roman bronze medals on the second day of the Asian Championship – Ashu (67kg) and Hardeep (97kg) being the other two.
Shared News| February 20, 2020 10:04:17 am
Aditya Kundu is the very antithesis of a stereotypical Indian wrestler. He, firstly, is among the handful who aren’t from Haryana. He can articulate his bouts. Did not quit studies. Is a inspector of civil works in Chandigarh. And aspires to be a lecturer.
Kundu, 23, was among the three Indian wrestlers who won Greco-Roman bronze medals on the second day of the Asian Championship – Ashu (67kg) and Hardeep (97kg) being the other two. But Kundu’s journey to the 72kg podium is rather unique. “I was pushed into wrestling by my father (Ranbir Singh, a former Sports Authority of India coach). Now, I can’t stay away from it,” he says.
In keeping with the tradition, Kundu started out as a freestyle wrestler and even won a gold medal at the University Games. But a knee injury suffered a few years back meant he couldn’t put too much stress on his legs, forcing a move to Greco-Roman, where a wrestler can only use his upper body.
A Commonwealth Championship gold medal in 2017 gave him reassurance that the switch wouldn’t threaten his career. And Wednesday’s result, in his maiden continental event and only his second international tournament, would only enhance his reputation. Kundu defeated Japan’s Nao Kusaka 8-0 in the medal bout after losing to Kazakhstan’s Ibragim Magomadov in the semifinals.
“It was disappointing but I couldn’t dwell on the defeat, just like I can’t go overboard with this medal. I need to cut my weight to 67kg so that I can be eligible for the Olympic qualifiers. That’s my priority now,” he says.
While competing at the Olympics is a ‘dream’, Kundu knows there’s life beyond it. Unlike most, who take up sports to get a government job, Kundu completed his M.Phil last year along with the National Eligibility Test to become a lecturer. He claims to be a ‘moderate student, the 75 per cent type’.
“But teaching is something I see myself doing after wrestling is done,” he says. “I did not want a 9-to-5 desk job. That’s not for me. I need to be on the field, doing something.”
So until he becomes a lecturer, Kundu got himself a job as a civil inspector. So, in the next few days, when he isn’t grappling on the mat, the Olympic hopeful will be carrying out physical inspection at construction sites in Chandigarh.
“I have Plan A, B, C, D for my life. For a living, I can do more than enough,” he says. “But right now, I want to make it to the Olympics team.”