Meet Murlikant Petkar, AKA 'Chandu Champion': Won India's First Gold Medal But Denied Arjuna Award

Meet Murlikant Petkar, the man behind Kartik Aaryan and Kabir Khan's sports biopic, 'Chandu Champion.' Here are some interesting snippets about India's first Paralympic gold medalist.

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By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:

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Meet Murlikant Petkar, AKA 'Chandu Champion': Won India's First Gold Medal But Denied Arjuna Award

Kabir Khan is one of the best directors of this era, and the biggest reason behind his success is his versatility. Kabir Khan has worked in films of different genres in his remarkable career as a filmmaker. From Kabul Express, New York, Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, 83, he has proved the mettle of his capabilities as a director. Seven months after the success of biographical drama, 83, based on India's 1983 Cricket World Cup triumph, Kabir Khan announced Chandu Champion in July 2022. Kartik Aaryan was confirmed as the film's lead after the makers released Chandu Champion's motion poster on July 4, 2023.

Kartik Aaryan's remarkable transformation for Chandu Champion

During the shooting of Chandu Champion, reports were rife that the film's lead, Kartik Aaryan was working on his physique. However, no one in their wildest dreams could imagine the physique he has finally achieved in the film. The actor looks absolutely stunning in a brand-new muscular avatar; from broad shoulders to his six-pack abs, Kartik stunned everyone with his physical transformation for Chandu Champion. When the actor started his training, he weighed around 90 kgs and could not do push-ups or pull-ups. After months of rigorous training, Kartik weighed around 72 kgs.

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Chandu Champion was released in theatres on June 14, 2024, and received many positive reviews. Both the director, Kabir Khan and the film's lead, Kartik Aaryan are being praised by the critics for presenting the underrated story with such precision. After the release of Chandu Champion, people started searching more about Murlikant Petkar, AKA Chandu Champion. Here are some interesting facts about Murlikant Petkar's life and accomplishments!

Who is Murlikant Petkar, the inspiration behind Kartik Aaryan's Chandu Champion?

Murlikant Petkar was born on November 1, 1944, in the Peth Islampur region of Maharashtra’s Sangli. Talking about his professional life, he served in the Indian Army as a jawan of the craftsman rank in the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME). Right from an early age, Murlikant had an immense interest in boxing and wanted to make a career in it. However, once, during a boxing competition, he fought against the son of his village's head and injured him in their fight. The incident erupted a controversy in the village, after which Murlikant left the village immediately. Post running away from the village, he enrolled in the Indian Army's Boys Battalion in Pune.

Murlikant Petkar’s journey as a boxer came to a hault due to 1965 Indo-Pak war

After enlisting as a jawan in the Indian Army, Murlikant Petkar continued participating in boxing tournaments as a participant from the army. His major moment came when he represented India in boxing at the International Services Sports Meet in 1964 in Tokyo, Japan. Everything was going perfectly fine in Murlikant Petkar's life until the infamous Indo-Pak war in 1965. As per the official website of Paralympics, Murlikant was posted in Kashmir when a surprise aerial attack happened. It was a severe attack, and he sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Not only this, he was also hit by a car, which worsened his injuries.

Due to the injuries that he had suffered during the war, Murlikant Petkar lost his memory and also became physically disabled. Once, in an old interview with the Indian Express, Murlikant opened up about the attack and revealed that he still had one bullet in his spine. He also shared that he started swimming on his doctor's advice, but it soon became his passion. Murlikant said:

"One bullet still remains lodged in my spine as a reminder. I spent 16 months in various hospitals, fighting a battle for my recovery. The doctors suggested I take up swimming to help my recovery. It soon became my passion."

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Murlikant Petkar became the first Indian to win an individual medal at the Olympics

When doctors told Murlikant Petkar that he would be disabled for life, he wasn't discouraged and was pumped up to make more history at the Paralympics. At the 1968 Summer Paralympics, he competed in multiple games, table tennis, swimming, shot-put, discus throw, weightlifting, archery, and javelin throw. However, it was at the 1972 Summer Paralympics in Germany that Murlikant became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics.

Murlikant Petkar achieved this feat in swimming, which he started initially during his recovery phase. He secured the gold medal in the 50-metre freestyle swimming event. It was a historic win for India, but Murlikant achieved this remarkable feat in style, completing it in a time that was then recorded at just 37.33 seconds. Talking about his medal tally, Murlikant won a total of 12 gold medals in international events, while 40 gold medals at the state level and 34 gold medals at the national level.

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When Murlikant Petkar revealed he was denied the Arjuna Award because of his disability

For the uninitiated, it was in 2017, when Murlikant Petkar applied for the Arjuna Award, but he was denied the same, reportedly due to his disability. However, in order to appreciate and thank him for making the country proud, Murlikant was bestowed with the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2018. After winning the Padma Shri award in 2018, he shared his thoughts about the same in an interview with IANS. He said:

"I have put all that behind me. I am glad that the government finally recognised my achievements. I did feel disheartened when I was denied an Arjuna Award on the ground that I was a disabled person."

After achieving everything as a sportsperson, Murlikant started working at TELCO for 30 years. Despite receiving multiple monetary offers, Murlikant decided to work till his retirement. According to several reports, Murlikant has a son named Arjun Petkar, other than that, not much information about his family is available in the public domain. It's heartwarming to see Murlikant finally getting the recognition and admiration that he deserves for winning so many medals for India. We hope he inspires every aspiring athlete out there, who aims to win something for their country.

What are your thoughts on Murlikant Petkar's inspirational journey? Let us know.

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