Ka:han garan kuniy t:v goes the famous proverb meaning “Eleven households sharing one pan / Facing acute scarcity and hard times”.
Such was the story of every other household from far-flung areas of North Kashmir a few decades ago. Waking up to the brutal realities of destitute conditions was an unfortunate realisation. Coming out from a famished night’s dream, people wished they hadn’t woken up. Opportunities were scanty, and employment was scarce if one didn’t own land.
The ration distribution/employment schemes weren’t nearly half as effective as today. People miserably failed at desperate attempts arranging two square meals for the impoverished family.
Junaid Bini Zahoor was born in one of such families on 06 June, 2005 to Zahoor Ahmad Beigh and his wife Kulsooma Begum in Mughal Mohalla, Palpora village of Magam (Handwara). The village is hardly ever heard of even by most locals, being a far-flung area. It’s not famous for anything as the highest form of employment ever went beyond being a local Kandur. Waking up to the word-of-mouth news of bombings or operations was an inevitable normal. The only lucrative but unfortunate end was to join the youth from Handwara picking up arms waging a pseudo-religious war sacrificing their lives for the infamous kši:ri kaha:y gar(only eleven households in Kashmir). Zahoor, realizing the misfortunes daily, had something else in mind for his newborn son.
Aek’ sund daza:n aa:b, te beyi sund n doza:n teai:l (One man can burn water, whereas another cannot even burn oil. A matter of luck). Destiny is perhaps not always in one’s own hands, but hard work definitely is.
With a six-year-old Junaid, still lacking the resources to attain formal education and knowing from experience that ts:th chu ts:th is vuchith rang rata:n (An apple gets colour on seeing another apple), Zahoor wished for a better path for his son. Junaid will channelise his negativity and energy into something positive just like his father who went on to become a Government School Teacher. His war shall be waged to become the best fighter/sportsman this country has ever seen.
KUDO is a hybrid Japanese full-contact martial art. A famous style of mixed martial arts (MMA), this form features stand up striking, throwing and grappling techniques, including restraint, locks and chokeholds. Being practised across 50 countries worldwide but no great laurels in India, Junaid -Zahoor dreamt- should be the youngest to fetch international medals for his motherland and prove his salt.
His gruelling journey began under the mentorship of Renshi Faisal Nazir. A Sensei is a black belt who has chosen to teach others to follow in their footsteps. After years of being a teacher (on average, 10 plus) and continually honing your craft, you may one day achieve the honour of receiving the illustrious title of ‘Renshi‘. Zahoor, having found one, for his son, desperately requested the master to accept this budding talent full of anger and transform him into a righteous, reputed warrior like his own self.
Renshi Faisal Nazir remembers how Junaid was a kid with a tantrum beyond his tender age and would refuse to wake up early for the taxing training regimen. Since one can’t force another to become a disciplined warrior, hence after a few weeks, the Renshi had to withdraw. It was once that Junaid himself somehow realised the importance of this struggle that he one day showed up surprisingly at the Renshi’s residence apologizing and demanding as if it was his birthright, to be trained through the exhausting routine by his demigod like master now. Hence resumed the nerve numbing regimen over again with greater focus, perseverance and determination than ever before.
In a short span of one year, Junaid was selected for the National Kudo Championship to represent the State of Jammu & Kashmir. However, the serpent of poverty gripped his feet once again. Junaid recalls that he doesn’t remember and can’t ever fathom how his determined father arranged for the money for his beloved son. The former was having probably once a lifetime golden opportunity to change his fate and jump out of this dark hole. Somehow the trip got sponsored credits to his under-debt father. This crisis only made Junaid outperform his standards at the tournament. Junaid bit GOLD.
This propulsion only paved his way further to participate in Seven more National Tournaments where Junaid unstoppably bagged medal after medal for his State Jammu & Kashmir.
However much the financial conditions pulled the family behind, the negativity only pushed Junaid’s limits further until one day -as Junaid credits his demigod Renshi Faisal Nazir- he got the golden opportunity to represent his country in an Intercontinental Championship. The championship would make him compete against well trained and established fighters from 10 different countries. With cold feet, mental agony and an ever-looming financial crisis, Junaid recalls how his Renshi somehow brought back his focus and confidence.
Through a short time, availability and limit-pushing training, Junaid successfully bagged BRONZE in the name of India and became the Youngest International Sportsman of Jammu and Kashmir.