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Karate champ fights cash crunch

Susan Thapa. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha

Susan Thapa, a youth from a far-flung village in the Darjeeling hills, has been going places in more ways than one because of dogged perseverance and total devotion to his craft.

The 21-year-old Thapa bagged a silver medal in the senior team kumite segment and a bronze in the senior individual kata category in the International Seiko Kai Karate Championship in Colombo in October.

Representing the Shito-Ryu Seiko Kai Karate-do India Association, he missed the individual medal in the kumite event after he failed it to make it to the semi-final, losing one of his three round-robin fights.

“Karate has two sections. One is kumite in which a person takes on an adversary. The other section is kata where various moves of the game are demonstrated,” said Thapa, who is from Gitkolbong at Lava in Kalimpong subdivision.

The unassuming karateka, who is also the secretary and the chief coach of the Darjeeling Gorkha Karate-do Association, wants to go to Doha to participate in a tournament this February. But gathering funds is always a problem.

Thapa could not go to Japan last November for another tournament — Seiko Kai World Cup Karatedo Championship — because he could not get a visa.

He had somehow managed to get the cash for the travel and stay. “I needed about Rs. 1.5 lakh for the training and travel to Japan,” he had said in October. “Neither I nor my family can raise such a huge amount of money.”

He generally approaches GTA leaders and social organisations in Kalimpong for help.

He lives in a rented accommodation at B.L. Dixit Road in Kalimpong and imparts karate lessons to young boys and girls to finance his stay and training in the town.

Thapa took up karate nine years back and is a black belt at the game.

He has also attained the third ‘dan’, a sort of rank the karateka gets after the black belt.

The Sri Lanka tournament was Thapa’s fourth international meet in the last couple of years.

“I have participated in tournaments in Nepal, Bhutan and Turkey. When I managed to bag a few medals in the Nepal and Bhutan meets, I drew a blank in the Turkey tournament,” he said.