Bhatti (Varanasi), Feb.1: Bhatti, a non-descript village near Varanasi, is today home to 15 national level judo champions who have brought glory to their native place by bagging over 100 gold, silver and bronze medals.
This year's national Republic Day brought Bhatti another medal through Ram Ashray, a constable in Uttar Pradesh Police. He had won gold medal in the 73-kilogram category at the Commonwealth Judo Championship in Mauritius.
Twenty five-year-old Ram Ashray happens to be the son Shyam Lal Yadav, who earned a big name in the neighbouring Jaunpur and Ghazipur Districts for being a remarkable wrestler in his prime.
Son Ram Ashray just carried on the legacy and also done his village proud by winning medals in international competitions held in China, Bulgaria, France, Thailand and Vietnam.
In India, Ram Ashray has already won gold medal and the best judoka award during Mumbai Nationals in 2006. Earlier to that, he had won top honours at the Junior Nationals even held in Warangal (Andhra Pradesh) in 2004.
Representing India, as an Indian Railways employee, Ram Ashray won a silver medal during the World Railway Games. Elder brother German Yadav has also been equally good Judoka. He is working with the Central Reserve Police Force.
The duo share between them, over 30 medals, won at the State, national and international levels.
Another is Ravi Yadav is a buddying Judoka, who won bronze at the 2007 National School Games held in Mizoram. He washes cars at a workshop in Chowkaghat in Varanasi. He is disappointed that the government hasn't provided suitable ties for Judo at his village that has potential of turning out many more champions.
"We don't have any facility here. We can't practice here in Akhara (traditional gym and wrestling arena) during rainy season. There are no tin sheds, no water facility. There is no means of transportation," says Ravi.
"The boys come here through uneven terrains but then also we want to continue our practice. We can achieve similar to Ram Ashraybhai who did it while practicing in this Akhara only," he added.
There are many players who spend their evenings in gruelling practice sessions on the judo mats at Varanasi stadium
"The children here are overjoyed about Judo. They are so excited if they get some support and facility from the Government, they will return with a medal from the Olympics," claims Bharat Lal Yadav, one of the Panchayat (village committee) members in Bhatti Lohta.
"German Yadav used to graze the cows. Later, he started practicing Judo and the art got him a job too. So, all the boys here are confident of getting jobs by learning judo. Hence they all are practicing hard," said Shankar Prasad, a local resident.
There are many others who have shown promise at the relatively preliminary stages of sports career while playing in school national events in sub-junior, junior or senior categories.
Also on the list are Subhash Yadav, Rahul Rai, Kanhaiya Yadav, Manoj Pal, Ganesh Yadav, Shiv Kumar, Radhey Pal, Avdhesh Kumar are medal winners at various events. But Shambhu Pal was lucky to have been employed with the Sashastra Seema Bal (or, the border guarding force).
Bhatti Village, for its glory, is today looked upon as a big motivation for neighbouring villages to take sports a bit seriously. The influence is visible when one witnesses scores of promising judokas from Bakharia, Kaparporwa and Akelwa areas training at the Varanasi stadium here.
Uttar Pradesh now has three international judokas: Garima Chaudhary from Meerut, Arjuna Awardee Akram Shah from Saharanpur and Ram Ashray. By Girish Kumar Dubey