When Sandeep & Khushbu Gajakas, Directors of “The Shoe Laundry” received a message from a friend seeking a contribution for a former 3 times amateur chess boxing world championship (2 Gold & 1 Silver) from Mumbai, they could not believe that in spite of Madhavi Gonbare’s achievements she was still looking for a sponsor for the upcoming 4th world championship in Palermo, Italy. Knowing that their personal initiative, Khush Kids Project, funded by themselves, family & friends, has for several years been helping around 2000 tribal children, their friend was optimistic to get some help from them.
They gathered all the information & started spreading the word & set up a few calls immediately requesting sponsorship for Madhavi. Madhavi had been trying for quite a while & time was running out with just a few hours remaining for the first installment to confirm her participation was to be paid to the federation.
With no other help coming through & the deadline nearing, Sandeep & Khushbu realized that something had to be done fast or Madhavi would lose the opportunity to participate in the world championship. Unfortunately due to the financial losses caused by the covid situation no one was willing to fund an athlete for a sport that isn’t as popular even though she had several state, national & world championships to her credit. There just wasn’t even commercial benefit to be had from sponsoring her.
Madhavi Gonbare, 25, from Saki Naka, in Mumbai, mother is a peon in a govt. school & a brother who is an electrician cum van driver, has had a very challenging life. Through her grit & determination she has achieved a lot in an upcoming & unique sport of ultimate mental & physical fitness. Chess-boxing is a combination of alternate rounds of chess & hard-core boxing & she has won three (3) world championships for India but in spite of all her achievements, she was without any funds of her own or a sponsor.
Sandeep & Khushbu Gajakas decided that The Shoe Laundry would be the official sponsor Madhavi Gonbare’s participation & ensured that all the payments were made in time to secure her participation for the upcoming world championship. “We don’t know if it’s a wise decision because honestly even we hadn’t heard of chess-boxing but we were moved by Madhavi’s story & excited by the prospect of contributing in an effort to get a medal for India by backing a deserving athlete at a world championship. We hope she will win & make India proud” says Mr. Gajakas.
Madhavi herself is extremely thankful for this timely help. “I will do my best to win & make India proud & I hope more people will sponsor sports persons like me. I am extremely thankful to Sandeep Sir & Khushbu Ma’am, who haven’t even met me personally because they want me to focus only on training & competition at the moment. Before my nationals recently I spoke to them & their encouragement & motivation really helped me. I hope more people take motivation from them and support sports & sponsor athletes like me.”
I had made preparations to travel to Palermo, between 6th – 12 Dec, and cheer for Team India & Madhavi but I wasn’t able to secure the invitation letter from the organizer. It would have been a great opportunity for an unique Indian brand like The Shoe Laundry to be a world sporting event, where sports persons & media from several countries will be in attendance. However, we are feeling extremely happy & proud to do our bit for an Indian sportsperson & hope she makes us proud” says an excited Mrs. Khushbu Gajakas.
Chess-boxing is also being considered for the next edition of Khelo India & hopes to be recognized officially for govt. support. Hopefully Team India will also perform well at the world championship which will increase its popularity, motivate others to take up the sport & attract more & bigger sponsors.