Hyderabad: Dennis Swamy, a pugilist par excellence who dominated boxing rings in the country in the 1960s, passed away at his residence in Langer Houz in Hyderabad following a heart attack on Tuesday. He was 75 and leaves behind his wife, two sons and a daughter.
His body will be laid to rest at the Narayanaguda cemetery on Wednesday at 5 pm, after the funeral mass at 4 pm at St Michael’s Church near Andhra Flour Mill in Langer Houz.
Famous for his trademark hat, Dennis Swamy was an eight-time national boxing champion — six years on the trot — between 1961 and 1971. He was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1968, first to receive the national honour from the then combined state of Andhra Pradesh.
However, misplaced priorities of sports administrators denied Dennis Swamy a shot at the Olympic Games. Prior to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Swamy had won back-to-back national titles. After initially being named at the top of the Tokyo selection list, his name was surprisingly dropped days ahead of the Olympics.
Later, the former Army man guided many a budding boxer during his stint as coach with the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh at the Gymkhana Ground until he retired in 1999.
Nick-named ‘King of the Ring’, Dennis Swamy’s tryst with boxing began when he was only 14 years old, when he won a silver medal at the Ahmednagar Boxing Championship before rising up the ranks.
Boxing fraternity in the city condoled his demise even as other sports associations joined in paying tributes. “He was a technically sound and scientific boxer,” said Omkar Yadav, former boxer and current coach. “Almost 40 years after Dennis Swamy himself could not make the Olympics, I remember watching Wijan Ponlid of Thailand win the flyweight (48-51kg category) gold medal at Sydney 2000 by adopting his style — that of scoring quickly, holding the rival as well as evading him, which requires a high state of mental alertness,” Om recalled.
Sports Authority of Telangana State chairman A. Venkateshwar Reddy termed Dennis Swamy’s demise “a great loss to sportspersons as well as the state.”
The Telangana Football Association led by secretary G. P. Palguna held a condolence meeting in Dennis Swamy’s memory and observed a minute’s silence at the Lal Bahadur Stadium along with football trainees from the summer camp. Hockey Telangana secretary Bheem Singh too offered his commiserations to the bereaved family members.