Name: Narender Grewal, 22
In the village of Satrod Khass near Hisar, Haryana, the Grewal family home is the centre of activity. Inside the house Narender Grewal is the cynosure of attention. The 22-year-old wushu exponent is nursing a fracture in his left foot which he sustained in the semifinal of the 60kg Sando class at the 2014 Asian Games. His mother Lata, brings him a glass of milk but before she can hand it, a youngster snatches the tumbler away. He wants to have the privilege of serving it to Narender himself.
Considering the adulation the Asian Games bronze medallist enjoys, it’s hard to believe he once had to leave the village after neighbours complained of his fights with other children. “It’s a complete different scenario now after I have won the medal. When I was 10, I used to fight a lot with youngsters and every day somebody would complain to my father,” he recalls.
Narender would also wrestle at a local akhara where he would beat up children older than him. And while his family finally decided to enroll him in a school in Delhi they could not get rid of their son’s fighting instincts. “I always wanted to be a fighter and so I started learning kickboxing at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Bawana, Delhi,” he says.
With kickboxing not an option in the school curriculum at the higher level, Narender opted for wushu. The choice turned out to be an inspired one and he won a medal in the School Nationals at Pune in 2010 followed by a bronze in World Junior Championship in Macau two years later. In 2013, Narender successfully debuted at the senior level with a gold medal in the 60kg category at the nationals in Kolkata.
Despite his success, Narender, unemployed, was constantly battling financial troubles. In order to pay for his son’s expenses, his father Satbir took out a loan. Narender even took part in the Raj Kundra promoted Super Fight League (SFL) to earn some money while simultaneously training for the nationals. “It was a tough routine but I earned Rs 5-6 lakh for the bouts,” says Narender, who won six and lost one of his bouts in SFL.
By routinely putting his body on the line, Narender unsurprisingly has suffered a number of injuries. His injury in Incheon was the second time this year he had fractured a limb. At the Nationals in Jaipur earlier this year, he had won his quarterfinal bout with a hairline fracture on his right limb and carried the same injury into the semifinals which he lost.
It’s moments like these that give mother Lata sleepless nights although she admits, she can’t change his mind. “We cannot stop him from fighting. There is always a danger of injury but we let him play due to his love for the sport. This time too, he has returned with an injury,” she says.
But on this occasion though, alongside the injury Narender has managed to bring in the precious Asian Games medal.