Prof Anwar Khurshid Chowdhry was a larger-than-life figure, whether in a class room, boxing ring, or elsewhere. He was a tall man, strongly built, and exuded awe and confidence.
Born in 1923, he completed his BE in Mechanical Engineering in 1950 after studying at the old NED Government Engineering College both in the pre and post-partition years. In 1952, he started at NED as a lecturer. During our 1966-70 NED years he was first an associate professor and promoted to a professor in 1968. He later became the head of the Mechanical Engineering Department until his retirement in 1977.
Prof Chowdhry was in-charge of the sports programs at NED. He was the secretary for PBF (Pakistan Boxing Federation) and was a boxing referee and judge of international repute. In 1964 Tokyo Olympics he was declared the best judge. He also served the International Boxing Association in various capacities and was elected its President for 5 consecutive terms. His contributions to boxing were huge. He is widely credited with researching and inventing the Computerized Scoring System which is an integral part of the International Boxing Scoring System. It is said that as President, he ruled AIBA with an iron hand. As he aged, his grip loosened and some controversies arose by the end of his final term.
For his meritorious services, he was honored with some of the highest awards by Olympic Committee, UNESCO etc, and received honorary doctorate degrees by various universities around the world. In Pakistan, he received Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) in 1999.
Prof Chowdhry passed away in 2010 at the age of 86. He is survived by three daughters and grandchildren.
Prof Chowdhry was an excellent and demanding teacher. He ruled the class in his usual class - with an iron hand. His looks alone could kill. He taught us Engineering Drawing in the first year. His teaching style was very methodical as he introduced us to new concepts. In between explanations he would pause and ask questions. Wrong answers or inappropriate behavior would draw humiliating admonitions, often delivered in a very folksy mix of Punjabi and Urdu. I was good at drawing but I was totally intimidated by him and deathly afraid of being the recepient of humiliation from him.
In the class, he was often helped by his assistant, Hidayat Ullah who would fill in for Chowdhry Saheb if he was not around. If Prof Chowdhry was teaching, Hidayat Saheb lurked in the back of the class. If we had an exercise to do in the class, he would circulate and see if we were doing OK. Quite often, Prof Chowdhry would ask him to fetch a model, or cutout, or some object. It would always take Hidayat Saheb some time to find what Prof Chowdhry had asked for, and invariably the professor would get impatient and would prod him with very colorful Punjabi phrases. On one occasion, he asked the assistant to bring out something. After a minute or so he asked Hidayat Saheb to hurry up. The assistant probably was having difficulty finding what was requested. I will never forget what Chowdhry said: 'Oye, Hidayatye, tenooN aana keh maiN baraat kol awaaN?' ('Are you coming or should I come with a wedding procession?'). The class burst out laughing but had to reign in the laughter as Chowdhry Saheb gave us a fiery look.
Prof Chowdhry lived in my neighborhood. His house was in the next block. Quite a few residents shared the same household help. Around 1968, Prof Chowdhry went to Thailand to attend Asian Games. When he returned, he was accompanied by a lady. The news spread in the neighborhood quickly that "Chowdhry Saheb Thailand say begum lai haiN." It would later be corrected that Mrs. Chowdhry was a Japanese and not Thai. The lady adapted to the culture and customs very quickly and admirably. It was reported that she would sit in the bathroom and wash the clothes the traditional desi style by beating the clothes against a hard surface.
Occasionally I saw Prof Chowdhry in the neighborhood. If I saw him I would take a detour and avoid facing him. I did not want to risk any humiliation in my own neighborhood. In my mind I was fairly satisfied that he would not recognize me as being one of his students. On one Eid morning, as I was exiting the mosque along with my father and brother, I saw Prof Chowdhry standing in the middle of the street greeting a group of neighbors. I tried to circumvent the group, but he spotted me and called out loudly: 'Oye, mundya, aithoN aa!' ('Hey, boy, come here!'). Approaching him I felt like a sacrificial animal. But he greeted me very warmly. His embrace was long and affectionate. I was very surprised.
Prof Chowdhry was in-charge of sports activities at NED. In those days, 5 seats were reserved annually for admitting new first year students on the basis of sports accomplishments, and Prof Chowdhry determined the eligibility of the applicants for these seats. He was very selective about whom he picked. He was fond of sports and athletics during his youth, and the passion carried into his adult life. Under his guidance and directions various teams and sportsmen did very well. During 1970, teams from NED won numerous contests, chamionships and awards, as documented in an article by Iqbal Abdul Rahman (C70) which appeared in 1970 edition of NED's annual magazine "The Young Engineer".