A journey from stardom to obscurity was a quick one for Hari Om Shukla who has descended from drawing applause at international karate events for flawless strikes to brewing tea at a stall along an alley in Mathura.
Just five years ago, at the age of 23, he had punched his way through 60 medals in junior and senior categories at karate tournaments. Shukla used to work in a private educational institute whose management was supporting him in pursuing his passion. But, later, the institution stopped the funding. So he took up teaching karate to school children in Mathura but due to the lockdown people stopped sending their children and he was out of job again.
With funds drying up, no job to support his family and two-year-old son, and despite having a science degree Shukla’s life circumstances took him to his father’s tea stall. He is now left to sell tea near a private hospital in Mathura city.
While many government schemes claim to benefit athletes, but the ground reality presents a different story. Hari Om Shukla has met Mathura MP Hema Malini and state Power Minister Shrikant Sharma, but no help has yet been forthcoming.
Shukla has bagged a gold and silver medal in 2013 in Thailand, which was organised by World Kumite Organisation. In 2015, Shukla won a gold medal in the Senior Men’s Kumite tournament under ‘75-80 kg’ in Sri Lanka. In 2009, he won a bronze medal in Kumite at 14th International Funakoshi Cup Karate Championship in Mumbai.