Not Out: Heroes from the World of Sport
Heroes are made, not born. They go through many ordeals and finally with their hard work reach the pinnacle of success.
Heroes don’t just set records.
They change lives.
By example. By inspiring others.
Not Out is a collection of instances of heroism from a variety of sports ranging from cricket to football to boxing. These are stories based on real people and real events that had a profound effect not just on the world of sport, but our lives. From the first coloured world champion to the men who played bare feet to win a football tournament, this is a tribute to those sportspersons who braved tremendous odds to emerge victorious.
Some became legends, some remain relatively unknown.
But all of them reflect the spirit of sport in the finest sense.
1. The Day of the Bare Feet
2. The World Champion’s Still a Nigger’
3. Broken Bones, Brave Heart
4. An Indian Plays Cricket
5. The Flowers of Manchester
6. The Blind Boxer
7. John, You Are Immortal!
8. One More Time, Jimbo
9. Four Hundred Metres of Courage
10. Wounded, but Victorious
11. The Brave Rider
12. The Day the Kiwis Flew
There was a time when we were told, “Studying will make you a king, playing will only spoil you.” We have come a long way since then. Sport today is an integral part of our lives. Be it on the playing field, on the /television, or in magazines or newspapers, sport touches us all in some way or the other. Many sportspersons are our idols and heroes, and we follow their cue on everything.
But not every sportsperson is a hero. Only some manage to attain that status. They do so by going beyond their sport. And touching our lives. Their achievements are measured not in terms of entries in record books but by the difference they made to the world around them, by inspiring people to do what seemed impossible.
Sport has been fortunate to be endowed with many such heroes. From Jack Johnson, the man who won the world heavyweight title at a time when coloured people were treated with contempt all over the world; to India’s own Mohun Bagan, who showed that skill and fortitude
were more important than footwear and race—the sporting world has produced a number of people who are heroes in the truest sense of the word.
More often than not, a single event has been instrumental in transforming a player into a hero—
Jimmy Connors’ fantastic return from the brink of defeat against Aaron Krickstein, Kapil Dev’s bowling through the pain barrier at Melbourne—and so many others.
Not Out is an attempt to recapture the events that made a number of sportspersons rise from being players of a game to becoming representatives of humanity.
These are people whose impact was felt well beyond the world of sport. People who can stand tall in any company—be it of great leaders, economists, or cinema stars. These are not just players. They are icons.
Not Out recreates their battles against adversity. There are occasions when, in the absence of concrete information, I have turned to fiction to fill in the gaps, always keeping the facts in mind. These are stories of real achievements of real people.
All of them faced adversity and seemingly insurmountable odds. None of them wilted. None of them gave up.
In the minds of many, they are still out there, battling away to glory.
Unbeaten. Or to use a cricketing term—Not Out!
New Delhi, January 2010