SANGLI: Renowned wrestler and former Rajya Sabha MP, Hind Kesari Maruti Mane, died after a prolonged illness at a Miraj hospital on Tuesday. He was 72.
Mane was admitted to hospital after his platelet count dropped. He was not responding to treatment and even blood transfusion did not help. His immunity was low as his white blood cell count had also dropped. He breathed his last at 10.50 am.
Mane had a glorious run as a wrestler between 1962 and 1972 and did exceedingly well for the country in major championships.
In the 1970 Commonwealth Games, he bagged silver in the unlimited freestyle event.
In the 1962 Asian Games, he won gold in the 97 kg freestyle and the silver in the 97 kg Greco-Roman events.
Mane was crowned Hind Kesari in 1964 after defeating Rajasthan wrestler Mahiruddin.
He was at one time listed among the best wrestlers in the world. He was also presented with the prestigious Dhyan Chand award by the Union government.
In his wrestling days, Mane used to work out for almost 10 to 12 hours daily. His fitness was said to be the reason for him lasting a good 11 minutes against the then all-conquering Russian wrestler Alexander Medved in 1967.
No wrestler could last for more than a couple of minutes against the Medved, who was crowned world champion four times and won three Olympic golds in Tokyo (1964), Mexico (1968) and Munich (1972).
Mane was born in a poor farming family in a small village called Kavthepiran. He was attracted to wrestling since his childhood with his father having taught him the basic moves.
Though the family did not have money to spare, his father ensured that Mane did not lack for anything, especially a good diet which is essential for a wrestler. He devoted his life to wrestling and encouraged many youths to take up the sport.
A close friend of former state chief minister Vasantdada Patil, Mane also worked in the co-operation movement at Patil's request.
He was chairman of the Sangli district central co-operative bank for five years and was also on the board of directors of the Vasantdada co-operative sugar factory.
Mane was made a Rajya Sabha MP during the tenure of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi but confessed that though he had mastered all manoeuvres in wrestling, he could not master political tactics.
Mane's body was kept at his residence on Sangli-Miraj road to enable people to pay their tributes. The body was later taken to Kavthepiran where the last rites were performed in the evening. He is survived by his wife and daughter.