Former Indian Table Tennis Champion Kabad Makes The Bayou City his Home

A family picture, from Left: son Atma, daughter Anasuya, wife Kanchan along with Jay Kabad.

A family picture, from Left: son Atma, daughter Anasuya, wife Kanchan along with Jay Kabad.

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: When Jay Kabad casually introduced himself to the members of TT Nuts (a table tennis players association) at the Durga Bari Temple on the city’s westside a couple of years ago, there were gasps of disbelief and faces mirroring incredulity. It took a while for the fact to sink in that they were shaking hands with THE JAYANT KABAD – the renowned table tennis champion who won accolades for India in various national and international tournaments.

After the death of his father in an industrial accident, 4 year-old Kabad and his family moved to Bangalore to his maternal grandfather’s house. When he was 10, his uncle, B.Sai Kumar, himself a State table tennis player and only 4 years older, introduced him to the game.  Kabad’s innate talent and a natural flair for the game caught the eye of Amrit Kumar who would go on to coach him during his entire career.

 A meteoric rise at the State Level followed but it was from 1968 that Kabad joined the league of national players like Mir Khasim Ali, Monty Merchant and Niraj Bajaj and ranked number 3 in India.   He was selected to represent India in the Munich World Championship which was all well and good – but there was a slight problem: he had no money!  Kabad laughingly recalls the movie that was premiered to raise the funds – “Dil Diya, Dard Liya.”


A picture of the young Jay Kabad playing in a tournament.

Munich proved to be a great experience but it was another keenly watched match that Kabad recalls vividly.  At the National Championship Finals in Bangalore, the excitement was palpable as the odds of winning were heavily in his favor. The Chief Minister, Governor and all of Bangalore turned up with garlands in the certainty that their hometown boy would win – and Kabad lost!

The Asian games in Japan also proved to be a great learning experience where he was pitted against the Chinese and the Japanese.  “The Chinese,” Kabad explains, “are near impossible to beat because each player has a different way of playing the game whereas the Japanese though hard to beat too at least have only one style!”

Ugly politics snaked its way into the playing fields in 1975 and even though Kabad ranked No. 1 in the country in a nail biting finish at the Indore Nationals, he wasn’t selected to represent India in an international tournament.  Sports officials didn’t even have the courtesy to send him an invite!

Kabad clearly credits his successes to his supportive mother, his no nonsense coach Amrit Kumar, his uncle Sai Kumar and his grandfather who encouraged his grandson to skip exams if it clashed with an important match because “exams would come and go but the opportunity to represent the country wouldn’t!” A remarkable attitude, as this was in the ‘70’s when every parent wanted his son to be either a doctor or an engineer.

If Kabad was a celebrity in the world of sports, he was no slouch when it came to academics.  He aced them sometimes even studying between match breaks and in fact was among the top 20 in the PUC exam in Bangalore.   This academic acclaim would come in handy as a career in sports is hardly a viable option in India.  After graduating in Physics from IIT, Chennai, and a short unchallenging stint at a government organization, Kabad applied to Pittsburg University, Pennsylvania for a one-year MBA course.  A job offer brought him to Houston but the slump in the oil industry and huge student loans forced him to apply for a job at a financial planning firm.  Six years later, Kabad branched out on his own with JayKay Wealth Advisors.

Kabad’s business focuses primarily on five main areas: tax reduction planning, estate planning, income planning, risk management and asset management.  He offers a customized approach to his mostly Indian clients and helps them protect and grow their accumulated wealth with the watchword being safety.   Kabad describes Indo Americans as being mostly affluent, savers, cautious and moderately conservative.

Partnering with him in this successful venture is Kabad’s wife, Kanchan.  The Zen-like reasoning that made her accept his proposal was that a sportsman learns to deal with victory and defeat  with equal composure and well, Life’s no different.  This philosophy has stood her in great stead as the couple are celebrating their 29 years of togetherness and have two children.

As Vice President of JayKay Wealth Advisors, Kanchan oversees the administration, compliance and trades.  She is also actively engaged in the Chinmaya Mission and as President of `the Indo American Cancer Awareness Network (IACAN) – an organization that seeks to educate and support those suffering from cancer in the Indo American community.

The couple love to travel and consider Sorrento, Italy, their most memorable holiday.  When not working, Kanchan designs costumes for Indian dances and is a makeup artist.  She is also a marathon runner while he unwinds by playing – no, it’s not table tennis – but golf!