Akshay Kumar: 'It's payback time for me'

By Hindustan Times

Mumbai, Oct. 22 -- The Akshay Kumar Invitational and International Karate Championship that flagged off on October 19 ends today. The closing gala of the world's largest karate tournament will include demonstrations by a grandmaster and his six Japanese fighters. Some Indian winners will also get to showcase their skills before flying out to Japan for a competition.

Akshay has announced cash prizes worth R 5 lakh as an additional morale booster. "There is a R 1 lakh prize for the Best Disciplined Fighter," he says. And two upcoming fighters, a boy and a girl, will go home richer by a lakh each, even without a gold medal for "showing the spark".

There are two more prizes worth a lakh each for Best Male and Best Female Fighter. Over three days, 4,500 fighters have fought 7,000 bouts for the top honours. This includes national champs from Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, two Asian champs from Malaysia and six champs and a grandmaster from Japan. Exults Akshay, "What's heartening is that Indian children are at par with the best fighters."

Akshay is determined to prove to the world that Indian sport is not just about cricket. Now, he's on a mission to ensure that karate is made compulsory in school. "Every girl and boy will have to undergo three years compulsory training before getting their school leaving certificate. This will mean that there will be a karate champ in every Indian household, the way it is in China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong," he says. "Karate has given me a lot and now, it's payback time for me."

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