India is beset with stories of sportspersons who have brought laurels for the country in various sport disciplines. The continuous hard work, dedication and commitment for sports coupled with the unstinted efforts by different sports institutions have scripted the success stories of many sporting stars of our country. One such sports institution that has not only redefined sports in Odisha but has also been the cradle of national and international players is Utkal Karate School, Bhubaneswar (UKS). Founded in 1981, the school has drawn applause far and wide for its training facilities which is second to none. And the man at the helm of UKS, Dr. Hariprasad Pattanayak deserves all the credit. Apart from being a former Karate champion, he has created a niche for himself as a coach, sports and fitness promoter and journalist. He is the man behind introducing many lesser-known sports in Odisha with an aim to bring the people closer to the world of sports and fitness.
Mr. Pattanayak was never really interested in sports. In fact, he was a sick child battling with multiple diseases like rheumatoid- arthritis, severe tonsillitis and schizophrenia. He even had a hole in the heart and took medicines to control his anger. Doctors felt that he may not live longer. So his father introduced him to Yoga at an early age of four. “I had an forgettable childhood. But when Yoga happened to me, I slowly gained confidence. A burning desire developed in me to learn anything and everything that would strengthen my mind and body. I was inspired by a school friend who was practicing clay wrestling and decided to join Kalinga Gym in Cuttack. Looking at my flexibility, I was advised to do Gymnastics as well,” he recollects.
Subsequently he took to Karate and as they say, the rest is history. He says, “I never had any idea on Karate. When my father got transferred to Bhubaneswar, I was shocked to see no gyms and practice grounds for gymnastics or wrestling. So I made an artificial mud pit at the backyard of my house to practice wrestling. But a few days later, I heard that a Karate school has newly opened up near Unit-2 area and thought of learning Karate there. Gradually I fell in love with the game and didn’t know when it became dear to me.”
Mr. Pattanayak is credited to have introduced the beautiful game of Karate in Odisha. “There was no Karate Association at that time due to which Karate players from Odisha were unable to participate in the national tournaments. Thus Odisha State Karate-Do-Association was formed in 1982. I was included as one of its Founder members. Since then our players have been taking part in various national-level tournaments and winning laurels for the state and country,” says Mr. Pattanayak who has already trained over 10,000 instructors in Karate, weightlifting, powerlifting, self-defence, health and fitness.
But Mr. Pattanayak was far from getting over. He was not content with the growth of Karate in the state. He felt though there was a Karate association, it did nothing except selecting the teams for various tournaments. It was then he felt the state required an independent Karate institution where the focus would be on Karate only. This paved way for Utkal Karate School in 1981 on a humble note. The former multiple state Karate champion also had the rare opportunity to represent the country at the Asia Karate Championship in 1986.
But as fate would have it, Mr. Pattanayak was at the peak of his career when he met with a fatal accident in 1987. His knees were dislocated due to which he had to undergo five surgeries. Frustrated, he decided to leave Karate forever in 1996 and concentrate on training the budding Karate players instead.
Though Karate was accorded the status of an Olympic sport this year, Mr. Pattanayak still feels back home the sport has been overshadowed by popular sports like cricket, football and hockey and hence there is a need to promote the game to create national and international players from Odisha.
What is really surprising is that under one roof, UKS has training facilities for 12 different sports namely Karate, Gymnasium, Arm-Wrestling, Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Fencing, Rifle Shooting, Grappling, Ju-Jitsu, MMA, Wrestling and Wall Climbing. “The government was not doing enough to promote sports in the state. So, I thought of taking up the mantle to introduce several new sports at UKS. It does become difficult to manage all the sports at a time but we have trained and experienced instructors for different sports,” says Mr. Pattanayak who is also the state arm-wrestling champion.
There are certain sports that people of Odisha had either read on newspapers or watched on TV but never had the opportunity to involve themselves. If certain sports like Fencing, Rifle Shooting and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) are slowly gaining prominence in the state then it is due to Mr. Pattanayak’s unconditional efforts and hard work. “For the first time, people here in Bhubaneswar got a feel of the high-voltage MMA matches at UKS. Several national and international professional MMA players are often invited to take part in MMA Championships held at UKS,” he proudly says. The sophisticated rifle ranges at UKS and Kalinga Stadium that are being used regularly by the players to practice is Mr. Pattanayak’s brainchild. Further, a first-of-its kind artificial climbing wall in the state was earlier inaugurated at UKS thus opening doors for youngsters interested in adventure sports and prepare them for future tournaments.
Mr. Pattanayak has always been a favourite among his students who consider him as their Guru. Interestingly his students have started a chain of gym under the brand name Kato which happens to be his nickname. “I feel so happy for this lovely gesture. This speaks volumes of the love and respect students have for me,” he says adding that there are more than 20 Kato gyms across the state.
A self-confessed book lover, Mr. Pattanayak writes on several issues ranging from sports, health and fitness to superstitions for different newspaper and periodicals. He also plans to publish a book with collected stories from different reliable sources.
The nationally-acclaimed Karate coach has been feted numerous times for his outstanding contribution to sports. Prestigious awards like Biju Patnaik Sports Award, State Excellence Award, Krida Ratna Award and Kalinga Iconic Award to name a few are a testimony to his love, hard work and dedication towards sports and sportspersons.
Further, the efforts of UKS to provide self-defence techniques in the past have been hailed from all quarters. He strongly believes imparting self-defence techniques to girls and women is the need of the hour. Over 15 lakh girls from different schools and colleges of Odisha have been trained in self-defence since 2013 through the state government. Besides, a book on women self-defence named REACT penned by Mr. Pattanayak was also inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha Sj. Naveen Patnaik and has already reached out to over 6 lakh girls.
His efforts have also paid rich dividends with many of his students winning accolades for the state and country in different sports discipline. Anupama Swain made waves last year after she clinched gold medal for India in Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship held in Kerala. Notably, she is also multiple Karate and MMA champion. Three UKS students namely Priyadarshini Ghatuary (Ju-jitsu) and Dilip Jena and Payal Baral (both Karate) made it to the Indian team for the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta. But unfortunately the Indian team for Ju-jitsu and Karate were dropped due to the Indian Olympic Association’s decision. Besides, national Karate medallist Anuradha Patra and National Junior Weightlifting Gold Medallist Lalit are also dedicated students of UKS.
Today Mr. Pattanayak is a happy man when sportspersons and officials appreciate UKS for being the one-of-its-kind sports institutions in the world. “Today UKS has turned into a reputed fitness training centre with so many fitness equipment of international standards,” he said. Interestingly while many think Mr. Pattanayak is a hard-core sports enthusiast, he has another talent not many are aware of. He is closely associated with the leading theatre group ‘Uttara Purusha’ and has acted in over fifteen plays at different places of Odisha.
Among his many ambitious plans, Mr. Pattanayak aspires to increase the level of training activities for the existing sports. Besides, the second campus of Utkal Karate School at Urali (near Gopalpur in Cuttack) is almost ready. “The second campus in my village has bigger and better facilities like power gym, karate training centre and hostel among other and will be inaugurated later this year. I believe if you have good intention and vision then no goal is impossible to achieve in life. And I would continue to promote sports, health and fitness till my last breath,” he says before signing off.
|I feel blessed to be a part of UKS family for the last 26 years. UKS started off with karate but today it is the home to 12 different sports. This is all because of Pattanayak sir’s vision and hard work. I haven’t come across a person in my life who is so much dedicated and passionate towards sports.
Gouri Mohanty Former Karate Gold Medallist and Member, UKS
It’s a blessing to have a guru like Hari sir. His never-say-die attitude and approach towards life is really inspiring. Ever since I have joined UKS, there has been a dramatic transformation in me physically and mentally. I have been to many gyms before but there is something about UKS that makes it special. From the bottom of my heart I want such a noble and dedicated man to live longer because I think there can never be a second Hariprasad Pattanayak.
-Avishekh Rath,Ollywood Actor
Though it’s been over 9 years of association with UKS, I have never felt like staying away from my family. The tremendous growth of UKS is so inspiring. Hats off to Hari sir! He treats me like his own daughter! I wish every girl is blessed with a miracle guru like him who teaches you not to give up in life.
-Anupama Swain 2-time National Karate Medallist
I have no words to express how much indebted I am to Hari sir! Without his blessings and support I couldn’t have thought of coming this far. He is a living example of how one can achieve his or her goal with sheer dedication, passion and confidence! UKS is my second home and I feel extremely blessed to be a part of this family.
-Dillip Kumar Jena,International Karateka
I joined UKS in 2011 for gym purpose but subsequently took to Karate after watching my friend Anupama do karate. Since then my journey with UKS has been so eventful. All thanks to Hari sir who is so supportive and guides all the players like a father. The best part about UKS is that one can find so many sports under one roof that inspires you to excel in your respective sports.
-Anuradha Patra Asia Powerlifting Champion