International Mallakhamb coach Uday Vishwanath Deshpande was named among the list of recipients of the prestigious Padma Shri Award for his significant contributions to the traditional Indian sport of Mallakhamb.
As the coach and chief of Shree Samarth Vyayam Mandir, Dadar, Deshpande has dedicated over five decades to promoting Mallakhamb, not only within India but also on an international stage.
Deshpande's five decades of promoting Mallakhamb
Deshpande, now 71 years old, began his journey at the age of two or three as a player. His passion for the sport led him to become a prominent figure, not just as a practitioner but also as a coach. Under his leadership, Samarth Vyayam Mandir, Dadar, has evolved into a pivotal Mallakhamb centre in the city, playing a crucial role in elevating the sport to an international level.
He has trained 5,000 players from 50 different countries. In 2016, Deshpande founded the ‘Vishwa Mallakhamb Federation,’ created a rule book, and organised four international Mallakhamb tournaments. The first tournament witnessed participation from 15 countries.
Deshpande has conducted Mallakhamb camps and demonstrations in numerous countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, USA, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, and more. He has not only popularised Mallakhamb worldwide but also introduced various forms of the sport, including women’s rope and pole Mallakhamb.
Deshpande has been a mentor to blind students, continuing to coach in three blind schools. He played a pivotal role in establishing Mallakhamb associations in every district of Maharashtra and 33 states in India.
His passion for Mallakhamb has earned him the Shiv Chhatrapati Award, Dadoji Kondev Award, and Jeevangaurav Award. Many of his students have also been recognised with prestigious awards like the Arjuna Sports Award and the Dronacharya Award.
Celebrities such as Milind Soman, Ada Sharma, Isha Sharvani, Padmaja Fenani, and even Salman Khan in his early career have undergone training under Deshpande.
As Deshpande receives the ‘Padma Shri Award,’ he remains a pivotal figure in the world of Mallakhamb, a true ‘Pitamaha of Mallakhamb.’