A record created in sports by Pankaj Advani, 19 times World Champion English Billiards and a Snooker player.
Nicknamed as ‘The Prince of India’, ‘The Golden Boy’, this Pune born player has set new records by achieving a hat-trick of hat-tricks in English Billiards, holding the World Championship, Asian and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously.
In November 2003 he became only the second Indian player — after Om Agarwal in 1984 — to bring home a world snooker title. At 18, he was also the second youngest ever in the world to do so. Since then, the count has swelled to 17 world titles, the maximum number in any sport by an Indian. In both snooker and billiards, two cue sports that appear similar but have subtle, though important differences in how they are played. He is the only player in history to have both billiards and snooker world titles apart from the world professional billiards championship to his name.
When tried the Google translator option for ‘cueist’; the Hindi result you’re likely to get is ‘Advani’. Tell Advani this and he is embarrassed. “My God!” he exclaims, dropping his usually inscrutable visage.
From adversities to such graced and starred sportsperson, Pankaj Advani’s journey involves stories of persistence, hard work, dedication and sheer talent. “Though I was training a number of children at that time, what drew me to him was that he was a really fast learner — you just had to demonstrate a shot for him to reproduce it in the very next attempt. I was convinced that he would go a long way,” says Savur, his coach.
In recognition of his achievements, the Government of India has bestowed several awards upon Advani: the Arjuna Award in 2004, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006, Padma Shri in 2009 and Padma Bhushan in 2018.
In a country short of sporting heroes with a similar trophy cabinet, Advani remains behind a smokescreen — indistinct, amorphous, enigma-like. Even the google shows up MS Dhoni more than Pankaj Advani when searching for ‘Pankaj Advani receiving Padma Shri Award’! 🤔
Will he ever be the Big Star? Pankaj Advani shrugs his shoulders and continues his business with sage-like calm, defeating players across countries and continents, picking up world titles at will and returning to empty airport terminals.
The Hind Paridhan team wishing him good luck for many more titles and records to be starred in his journey ahead, a gem of India, Pankaj Advani…