Budhia Singh – The Forgotten Marathon Boy?

June 14, 2014 | 0

Budhia Singh story is that of hope and opportunity, and on the other side of the coin, there is greed, corruption and certainly broken dreams. After becoming a superstar at the age of 4 years, Budhia’s fame is now lost and his hopes shuttered somewhere in the streets of Orissa.  Born in a very poor family in 2002, Budhia Singh was sold by his mother to a peddler for a small amount of money.

The peddler who bought the boy treated him badly, and the mother sought help from an orphanage operator and a local judo coach Biranchi Das. This judo coach paid back the amount that the salesman had bought Budhia Singh, and the boy joined the rest of orphans who were under Biranchi’s charge.

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One day, the coach caught the boy making mischief, and punished him by ordering him to run. However, hours into asking the boy to run, the coach forgot about the punishment he had mete out to the boy, and the kid continued running and when he returned after five hours, he found Budhia still running. This is when he discovered that Budhia could run marathons and began training him.

By the age of four years, Budhia had run close to 48 marathons. The running ability and strength of this child led him to a celebrity status and he featured in many television commercials, which gave him fame. Budhia’s fame created significant financial gains to the coach but controversies arose which led to the coach being accused of exploitation.

An official inquiry was launched by Indian child welfare but Biranchi Das denied the allegations. In 2011, a lengthy documentary titled Marathon Boy was released covering Budhia and his life since 2006. Biranchi Das died in April 13, 2008 after he was shot by assailants inside the judo centre in what is described as an accident which had nothing to do with the training and coaching of Budhia Singh.

As Budhia became more famous, Biranchi Das was accused of exploiting the young kid, and one of the claimants was the mother. The same mother who had sold her son to peddlers began accusing Biranchi of torturing her child. The child welfare authorities were also involved in the matter that saw Biranchi arrested but was soon released. The government banned Budhia from running marathons until he attained the age of 11.

However, this is when the dramatic fall and loss of fame began. From that time, Budhia was never seen running. Budhia is today confined in a government run sports hostel in Orissa. Perhaps Budhia could have been provided with a better training to continue harnessing his talent but by the time he is 11 years, he may have lost the already talent he was nurturing at his tender age.

After the death of Biranchi Das, the life of Budhia seems to have faded away. Although Budhia might later regain his status of running, there is high skeptisms considering the many years he had spent without training and proper coaching. Rupanwita Panda, the coach at the hostel where Budhia stays says that there are no plans of training Budhia until he reaches the age of 11.

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Budhia Singh – Pictures

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