Blow for Metro safety, from boxing club

Club established in 1927 with support from Netaji ready t0 shift

By Subhajoy Roy in Wellington
  • Published 11.08.18
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The two-storey structure that is being built by the railways to house the club. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Wellington: A 90-year-old boxing club forced to make way for a ventilation-cum- evacuation shaft of the East-West Metro has taken it on the chin and agreed to move on.

The School of Physical Culture at Subodh Mullick Square had been established in 1927 after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose apparently encouraged a national-level boxer named Jagat Kanta Seal to set up a training facility in Calcutta. The club, comprising a ring and other sports facilities, came up on a plot of land that Netaji helped acquire.

Seal's legacy evidently hasn't kept up with the times, but members of the club remain proud of its origins.

Souren Das, the secretary of the club, said the decision to relocate was made easier by the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) offering an alternative nearby. The two-storey structure being built by the railways to house the club is nearing completion.

Once the club relocates, the original site will be used to build a ventilation-cum-evacuation shaft for the East-West Metro. "We hope to start demolishing the old club premises in about a week," an engineer said. "The design of the shaft is ready. We will start our work the moment we get the land."

The shaft has to be built there because the stations on either side - Sealdah to the east and Esplanade to the west - are separated by 2.5km. By Metro standards, this is a gap that requires a ventilation and evacuation mechanism.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation, which is the custodian of Subodh Mullick Square, is the intermediary in the process of relocating the club. Coincidentally, Seal was an employee of the corporation and Netaji a former chief executive officer and its fifth mayor.

"Netaji had called Seal to congratulate him after he returned from the Olympics. He believed that Indians needed to be physically strong to oust the British and hence he was keen on Calcutta having a facility like what the School of Physical Culture turned out to be," Das said.

Freedom fighters like C.R. Das were also associated with the club during its early days.

Mohammad Ali Qamar, who won a gold medal for India at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, is among the more famous names to have boxed in the ring at Seal's club. "I competed in several inter-school and inter-state meets in that ring. A boxer named Mohammad Tarique, who won bronze in the National Junior championship in 1997, is a product of the club," Qamar told Metro.

Three other medal winners in national championships - Mohammad Arif, Prabir Pal and Kamalesh Sarkar - have trained there.

The School of Physical Culture had been built on a 22-cottah plot. In the new building, it will have the ground and first floors for its ring and gym facilities.

Bowbazar Bayam Samiti, another nearly century-old physical culture institute within Subodh Mullick Square, doesn't need to relocate.