Someone had to do it, somebody abled. And there was no doubt in Joby Mathew’s mind that he was the chosen one. The 35-year-old, 3 ft 5 inch tall, 60 per cent differently-abled Joby, who won the World Arm Wrestling Championship in Spain last year competing against able-bodied men, has shouldered a unique responsibility.
Joby was instrumental in setting up the state Paralympics association this year. And this month he also spearheaded the first ever state championship for the physically challenged.
“There are 30 lakh physically challenged persons in my state. Most of them have special talents but, there is hardly any platform to display their skills,” said Joby. “Needless to say, we are considered unfit for even sports,” added the strong man who is also the winner of two Paralympics national golds.
The challenge that he has taken up is to pressurise the government to regard and reward physically challenged persons who win national and international laurels.
“Paralympics is a big event abroad. Participants are regarded as fighters and achievers. That is not the case here?” Joby says.
“Do you know what I got for becoming world champion? Rs.1 lakh. I wanted to refuse it when the minister handed it over but refrained from doing so as that would disregard other differently-abled persons,” said Joby.
All this has made Joby, a lawyer by profession, work even harder. “I bench press 132 kg every day and for the last 18 years I have been going to the gym regularly. If I am something despite my disability, it is because of my fighting spirit,” he said.
“I am not worried about whether they reward me or not. But, I will legally challenge sports organisations if they don’t reward other Paralympics athletes in our midst,” he added.
Meanwhile, his wife Megha approaches him with their one-and-a-half-year old child, Jyotis. And Joby calms down; he begins to play with his boy. The little big man has set an example to the several other Paralympics athletes to achieve what they are otherwise denied.
Photo:Thumbs UP: Joby Mathew won the World Arm Wrestling Championship in Spain last year — Jipson Sikhera
The Arm Wrestling Network – ArmWrestling Network