Thulasi Helen

Last updated

Thulasi Ekanandam (born 1986) also known as Thulasi Helen, is an Indian amateur boxer from Chennai who won her first gold medal at the 23rd YMCA Boxing Championship in New Delhi in 2000 in the 42 kg-44 kg weight category. She is sometimes known as “The Lady Muhammad Ali of India” [1] [2] [3] [4] because of her rapid footwork and stinging punches.

Amateur boxing boxing by non-professionals

Amateur boxing is a variant of boxing practised at the collegiate level, at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games, as well as many associations.

Chennai Megacity in Tamil Nadu, India

Chennai is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, it is the biggest cultural, economic and educational centre of south India. According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the sixth-most populous city and fourth-most populous urban agglomeration in India. The city together with the adjoining regions constitute the Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is the 36th-largest urban area by population in the world. Chennai is among the most-visited Indian cities by foreign tourists. It was ranked the 43rd-most visited city in the world for the year 2015. The Quality of Living Survey rated Chennai as the safest city in India. Chennai attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. As such, it is termed "India's health capital". As a growing metropolitan city in a developing country, Chennai confronts substantial pollution and other logistical and socio-economic problems.

Contents

Early life

Helen was born in 1986 to a Dalit family in Chennai. She took up boxing classes at the age of 14 after watching her older sister Saraswathi participate in the sport. It was around the same time that she was forcibly asked to marry a man her father knew from church. [5] She rejected him and ran away from home after disputes with her family. [6] Her parents had been unhappy that she refused to change her religion. [7] She had dropped out of school and was living variously with her grandparents, friends, in hostels, at railway stations and on beaches. She earned money by doing odd jobs like delivering pizzas, driving an auto to survive. [6] [8]

Boxing career

After winning the gold medal in the 42–44 kg category at the 23rd YMCA Boxing Championships in 2000, [6] Ekanandam was selected for special training by the Sports Authority of India. Thereafter, she beat Mary Kom but in 2011 her relationship with the Tamil Nadu state boxing association was soured after she filed a claim of sexual harassment and she was suffering financially. She left the state team at that time and was absent from the sport for some years. [6] [7] She believes that her successes were in spite of discrimination, including by the boxing association of Tamil Nadu, on the basis of her being a Dalit woman. [2]

Sports Authority of India

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) is the apex national sports body of India, established in 1984 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of Government of India for the development of sport in India. SAI has 2 Sports Academic institutions, 10 "SAI Regional Centres" (SRC), 14 "Centre of Excellence" (COE/COX), 56 "Sports Training Centres" (STC) and 20 Special Area Games (SAG). In addition, SAI also manages Netaji Subhash High Altitude Training Centre as well as 5 stadiums in the national capital of Delhi, such as Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Indira Gandhi Arena, Dhyan Chand National Stadium, SPM Swimming Pool Complex and Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range.

Mary Kom Indian boxer

Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte is an Indian Olympic boxer from Manipur. She is the only woman to become World Amateur Boxing champion for a record six times, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven world championships. Nicknamed Magnificent Mary, she is the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics, competing in the flyweight (51 kg) category and winning the bronze medal. She had also been ranked as No. 1 AIBA World Women's Ranking Light Flyweight category. She became the first Indian woman boxer to get a Gold Medal in the Asian Games in 2014 at Incheon, South Korea and is the first Indian woman boxer to win gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She is also the only boxer to become Asian Amateur Boxing Champion for record five times.

Tamil Nadu State in Southern India

Tamil Nadu, is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri Mountains, the Meghamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka.

Helen was working as a fitness instructor in 2016, at which time she had resumed boxing training in the hope of launching a career in the professional ranks. [6] By 2017, she was participating in mixed martial arts events. [9]

Mixed martial arts full contact combat sport

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from various combat sports and martial arts. The first documented use of the term mixed martial arts was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg in 1993. The term gained popularity when newfullcontact.com, then one of the largest websites covering the sport, hosted and republished the article. The question of who actually coined the term is subject to debate.

Sexual harassment and discrimination

A.K. Karuna, secretary of the State Boxing Association in India, asked Helen for cash and sexual favours if she wanted to be considered for a government programme that would give her a stable job and she would still be able to pursue her boxing career. Helen realised she is not the only one who has been asked for sexual favours. She complained against Karun and he was arrested. But Helen's boxing club closed down and her chances of winning became slim. [5]

Helen also claims to have experienced discrimination based on her caste. She also said that many girls belonging to lower castes choose boxing as their ticket to a better life. [5]

Awards

Helen, who had won 30 medals in total up to 2016, [2] was awarded a World Tamil Chamber of Commerce (WTCC) Achiever Award in 2016. [6] She also received the Sadhanai Thamzhachi, boxer awards from the Governor. [10]

Film

Light Fly, Fly High, a film directed by Susann Østigaard and Beate Hofseth, centres on Helen and depicts a young woman who literally fights for her independence and freedom from an unwanted marriage. [11] [12] The film also won the Oxfam Global Justice Award, the One World Media Awards and the Amanda Award for the Best Documentary. [13] The film was well-received and Dilip Berman of Saathee Magazine said, "The filmmakers have picked a unique angle to discuss entrenched patriarchy and how misogyny can be battled, though perhaps at personal cost." [13]

Helen also claims that the Tamil film Irudhi Suttru is based on her life, although she is not credited for it. [2] [14]

Personal life

After Helen's boxing club closed, she had to get married. However, she divorced her husband just after three months due to various restrictions that he had imposed on her like not working, having a Facebook account, making phone calls among others. [5]

Related Research Articles

Womens boxing Boxing when practised by girls/women

Although women have participated in boxing for almost as long as the sport has existed, female fights have been effectively outlawed for most of boxing's history, with athletic commissioners refusing to sanction or issue licenses to women boxers, and most nations officially banning the sport. Reports of women entering the ring go back to the 18th century.

R. Madhavan Indian actor

R. Madhavan is an Indian actor, writer and film producer. He has received four Filmfare Awards and an award from the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards along with recognition and nominations from other organisations. He has been described as one of the few actors in India who is able to achieve pan-Indian appeal, having appeared in films from seven different languages.

Akhil Kumar Indian boxer

Akhil Kumar is an Indian boxer who has won several international and national boxing awards. He practices an "open guarded" boxing style. In 2005, the Indian government gave him the Arjuna Award for his achievements in international boxing. In March 2017, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, appointed Akhil Kumar along with Mary Kom as national observers for boxing.

Venkatesan Devarajan is an Indian boxer and Olympian. He won the bronze medal in the 1994 World Boxing Championship in Bangkok. He was the second Indian to win a medal at the Boxing World Cup after Pu Zoramthanga (boxer), from Mizoram. He is from Chennai, India. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1995.

Laishram Sarita Devi is an Indian boxer from Manipur. She is a national champion and a former world champion in the lightweight class. In 2009, she was awarded Arjuna award by the government of India for her achievements.

Y NOT Studios

Y NOT Studios is a film production company in Chennai, India, established by producer S. Sashikanth. As of 2017, the company has produced 12 feature films, which includes productions made in the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi film industries of India. It has frequently collaborated with filmmakers including Sudha Kongara, Balaji Mohan and Pushkar–Gayathri, who have directed some of the company's most well-known films.

Kaali Venkat Indian actor

Kaali Venkat is a Tamil actor who mainly plays supporting roles in films.

<i>Irudhi Suttru</i> 2016 Indian sports action drama film

Irudhi Suttru in Tamil, Saala Khadoos in Hindi, is a 2016 Indian sports action drama film written and directed by Sudha Kongara. Made as a bilingual in Tamil and Hindi languages, the film features R. Madhavan in the leading role as a boxing coach, with newcomer Ritika Singh as an aspiring boxer. Both the Tamil and Hindi versions are produced by S. Sashikanth for Y NOT Studios and UTV Motion Pictures, while C. V. Kumar's Thirukumaran Entertainment co-produces the Tamil version and Madhavan's Tricolour Films with Rajkumar Hirani present the Hindi version. Featuring music composed by Santhosh Narayanan, Sanjay Wandrekar and Atul Raninga, the film has cinematography by Sivakumar Vijayan and editing by Sathish Suriya. After beginning pre-production works in early 2013, the film began shoot in July 2014 and was shot within fifty days.

Pinki Jangra Indian boxer

Pinki Rani Jangra is a flyweight Indian boxer from Hisar, Haryana. She won bronze medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She won gold medal at the President's Cup International Boxing in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia, in 2015.She won gold medals at the 2011 National Games of India and the 2012 and 2014 National championships in the flyweight (51kgs) division. She was the only Indian pugilist who bagged the gold medal at the Arafura Games. She signed up with Sporty Boxing Private Limited, which is referred to as the commercial arm of the Indian Boxing Council (IBC), the licensing body for professional boxers in India.

Thulasi Nair Indian actress who has appeared in Tamil language films

Thulasi Nair is former Indian film actress who has appeared in 2 Tamil language films. After making her debut in Mani Ratnam's 2013 drama film Kadal, she went to work on Ravi K. Chandran's directorial debut Yaan (2014).

Sudha Kongara is an Indian film director and screenwriter who predominantly works in Tamil cinema. She then worked as associate director for seven years with Mani Ratnam. In 2016, she made her Hindi cinema debut with Saala Khadoos which was originally shot in Tamil as Irudhi Suttru, for the Irudhu Suttru she won Filmfare Award for Best Director – Tamil. She made her Telugu film debut with Guru (2017) which was also a remake Irudhi Suttru.

Dheekshitha Venkadeshan, known professionally as Dhee, is an Australian playback singer who has worked in Tamil cinema. She has sung songs in her stepfather Santhosh Narayanan's albums and has garnered a nomination at the Filmfare Awards for Best Singer. She is known for her distinctive alto voice.

Muhammad Ali visited India on multiple occasions to participate in exhibition boxing matches, to visit schools and orphanages supported by his foundation, and for other private visits.

<i>Guru</i> (2017 film) 2017 film by Sudha Kongara Prasad

Guru is a 2017 Indian Telugu sports drama film, produced by S. Shashikanth on Y NOT Studios banner and directed by Sudha Kongara. Starring Venkatesh, Ritika Singh in the lead roles and music composed by Santhosh Narayanan. The film is remake of Kongara's own Tamil-Hindi bilingual film Irudhi Suttru released in previous year which stars R. Madhavan, Ritika Singh in the pivotal roles.

Ritika Singh Indian actress and mixed martial artist

Ritika Singh is an Indian actress and mixed martial artist, who predominantly appears in Tamil films in addition to Hindi and Telugu films. She first worked as child artist in Tarzan Ki Beti in 2002. After competing for India at the 2009 Asian Indoor Games and then participating in the Super Fight League, she played a leading role in Sudha Kongara Prasad's Tamil film Irudhi Suttru alongside R. Madhavan. She won Special Mention at the 63rd National Film Awards for her performance in the film. She next appeared in the Telugu cinema film Guru and Tamil film Shivalinga. She received Filmfare Awards thrice for a same role in three different languages: Hindi, Tamil and Telugu (Guru).

The 2nd IIFA Utsavam ceremony honouring the winners and nominees of the best of South Indian cinema in 2016 was an event held on 28 and 29 March 2017 at the Hyderabad, Telangana, India. The event, which is the second edition of the IIFA Utsavam, recognises the best work from the four industries during the year 2016 and awarded prizes to performers and technicians from the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages.

Sanchana Natarajan is an Indian model and actress who has appeared in Tamil and Telugu films. Having appeared in small roles in films including Irudhi Suttru (2016) and 2.0 (2018), Sanchana rose to fame with her role in Balaji Mohan's web series As I'm Suffering From Kadhal (2017).

Kaur Singh is a former Indian heavyweight champion boxer from Punjab. He has represented India in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Singh won three gold medal for senior national boxing championship, Asian Boxing Championship and Asian Games.

References

  1. "குத்துச்சண்டை காதலி துளசி ஹெலன்: விளையாட்டில் பெண்களை ஊக்குவிக்க புல்லட் பயணம்". பிரமிளா கிருஷ்ணன். BBC Tamil. 11 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Siddharth, S. "Meet Thulasi Helen, the Chennai boxer who once beat Olympian Mary Kom". The News Minute. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  3. ""ஏற்றிவிட வேண்டாம்... ஏணியைப் பறிக்காதீர்கள்!"". Vikatan. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. "Chennai's 'Lady Muhammad Ali' left punching against all odds". Hari Kishore M. DTNEXT. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Foundation, Thomson Reuters. "Film: "Untouchable" Indian boxer fights for her independence". news.trust.org. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Menon, Priya. "Punching against the odds: Boxer plans a comeback". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  7. 1 2 "Million Dollar Baby". The Hindu. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  8. "Dalit History Month – Remembering Thulasi Helen – The Lady Muhammad Ali of India". Velivada.com. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  9. Chandramouli, S. "A knockout win, in many ways". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  10. "THE LADY 'MUHAMMEAD ALI' – BOXER THULASI HELEN - Business Sandesh". Business Sandesh. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  11. "Light Fly, Fly High". International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  12. Holm, Nancy Graham. "Frozen Land, Moving Pictures". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  13. 1 2 "WOMEN MAKE MOVIES | Light Fly, Fly High". www.wmm.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  14. Cineulagam (8 March 2016), Irudhi Suttru is My Real Life Story | Boxer Thulasi Helen Interview , retrieved 17 November 2018