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Forgotten Heroes: Khushi Ram - India's scoring machine in basketball

Forgotten Heroes: Khushi Ram - Indias scoring machine in basketball

Abhijit Nair

Published: 10 Oct 2020 4:30 AM GMT

India has always been an well-recognised basketball team in Asia. It has participated twenty-five times in the FIBA Asia Cup and is among the top-five nations with most appearances in the tournament. India is also one of the most successful basketball teams in South Asia as proven by their three gold and one silver in the South Asian Games. Among the many great players India has produced, the name of Khushi Ram stands tall.

An Arjuna Awardee, Khushi Ram was one of the greatest basketball players from the entire Asian continent. Such was his might in the basketball court, that he was widely recognised as the Scoring Machine of Asia. Born in a small village called Jhamri in Haryana, Khushi Ram didn’t play basketball during his childhood. It was only after he joined the Rajputana Rifles unit of Indian Army in his teens that he started taking interest in the game.

The interest soon turned into a passion as he made his National debut with the Services team, just two years after he started playing the sport. He represented the Armed Force basketball team for ten years from 1958 to 1968, winning the best player award many a times. He made his India debut during a quadrangular tournament in Colombo in 1964. Within a year of making his debut, he was appointed as the captain and led India in their first ever FIBA Asia Cup in 1965. Though India had a disappointing seventh place finish, Khushi Ram emerged as the leading scorer of the tournament and gave the world a glimpse of what they were to witness in the coming few years.

Khushi Ram’s best moment under the sun came in the year 1970, when he participated in an Invitational tournament at Manila, Philippines. During the course of the tournament, Khushi scored 196 points in just seven games, including a whopping 43 in a single game against the hosts Philippines. That stellar tournament saw Khushi Ram walk away with three awards – The Most Valuable player of Asia, The Most Consistent Shooter of Asia and The Best Center player of the Meet.

Other than these awards, that legendary performance against Philippines earned Khushi Ram huge praise from the rival coach as well. After witnessing his performance, the Philippines coach famously went on to say, “Give us Khushi Ram, and we will conquer the world.” This statement from the coach of an Asian powerhouse goes a long way to prove the kind of impact Khushi Ram has had on the game of basketball.

After his retirement, Khushi Ram continued his association with basketball by taking up various coaching assignments. He was the coach of Shri Ram Rayons Basketball Team which was one of the most successful teams in the country. He also went on to coach the Rajastan Basketball team for quite a few years. Amongst his contributions to Indian basketball, the name of Olympians Ajmer Singh and Hanuman Singh stand out, along with his son, Ram Kumar, who also went on to captain the Indian team later.

Khushi Ram’s contribution to Indian basketball is widely appreciated as seen from his Arjuna Award. Two years after his demise, a marble statue was also erected at his hometown of Jhamri for his involvement in the development of basketball in the country.

Indian basketball will always be indebted to the legend that Khushi Ram was and to all his efforts for the development of this beautiful game of basketball in the country.

Also read: Sandhu from NBA Academy India gets a high-school scholarship in the US

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