20 Best Indian Sports Biographies and Autobiographies

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Sports biographies and autobiographies are unique gateways to players you would otherwise just watch on your television sets or read about in newspapers and magazines. The best memoirs lend intimate access to one’s life and their struggles and victories. Our article today compiles some of the best Indian sports biographies and autobiographies through the years, from tennis and cricket to shooting and gymnastics.

These sports biographies have stories of perseverance, grit, and determination against all hurdles, and I’m sure you’ll find something intriguing here to pick up and enjoy. We aim for exhaustive and comprehensive lists; hence, if you think we missed a title that should’ve been included here, please comment below and let us know. 3, 2, 1, go!

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Best Indian Sports Biographies and Autobiographies

Ace Against Odds

Title: Ace Against Odds

Author: Sania Mirza

Publisher: Harper Sport

Price: 383

Pages: 288


Ranked World No. 1 in women’s doubles at the time of the book’s publication, Sania Mirza is easily the most successful Indian player in women’s tennis. A six-time winner of Grand Slam titles, Sania’s journey to the top wasn’t a simple one. It was filled with physical and emotional hardships while also facing constant public scrutiny. Ace Against Odds is the story of a woman who lived (and lives) on her terms, went against set norms, and inspired millions through her sheer determination and hard work. For those searching for inspiring sports biographies or memoirs, this is a must-read.

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Title: Unbreakable

Author: Mary Kom

Publisher: Harper

Price: 199

Pages: 180


An all-time sporting great, Mary Kom’s life deserves several books. From being a farmer’s daughter to becoming one of the greatest boxers, Unbreakable is her story in her own words. She recounts everything, from her childhood to her relationships and every other factor that made her the champion she is today. The book, however, is more than another of the many sports biographies out there; it’s also an inspiring story for women everywhere to fight against a system and world that would try to hold them back and reach the pinnacles of success.

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Playing It My Way

Title: Playing It My Way

Author: Sachin Tendulkar

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Price: 379

Pages: 496


A list of Indian sports biographies and autobiographies would perhaps be incomplete without mentioning the God of cricket. Dominating the sport for over two decades, Tendulkar had a career filled with records and match-saving innings, culminating with being awarded the highest Indian civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna Award. A private person throughout his career, Sachin shares his life story here, through Playing It My Way. He pens his journey from a young boy from Mumbai who’d break his school records to the master blaster who’d score more centuries than any other player in both Tests and ODIs.

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The Test of My Life

Title: The Test of My Life

Author: Yuvraj Singh with Sharda Ugra and Nishant Jeet Arora

Publisher: Ebury Press

Price: 386

Pages: 189


Not only is Yuvraj Singh known for playing crucial roles in the successful Indian campaigns in the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup, but he’s also known for his successful fight against cancer. This pick in our sports biographies and autobiographies collection is both the story of Yuvraj, the star Indian cricketer, and Yuvraj, the cancer survivor. From the highs to the lows, he lays it all bare in this insightful autobiography, perfect for his fans and cricket lovers alike.

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Sunny Days

Title: Sunny Days

Author: Sunil Gavaskar

Publisher: Rupa Publcations India

Price: 415

Pages: 281


Inarguably one of the greatest Indian batsmen, Sunil Gavaskar, rewrote several records against the likes of mighty bowlers like Dennis Lilee, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Michael Holding… well, you get the idea. But his backstory is as fascinating as his on-field career. From being switched after birth to breaking his mother’s nose to being booed by the crowd for his uncle as one of the selectors, his life stories are a delight to read. Sunny Days remains one of the classic old-school sports biographies and autobiographies that would be loved by any cricket lover worldwide.

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281 and Beyond

Title: 281 and Beyond

Author: VVS Laxman with R Kaushik

Publisher: Penguin eBury Press

Price: 277

Pages: 336


If you prefer your sports biographies candid and heartful, you’ll love reading 281 and Beyond. VVS Laxman, a cricketing legend despite avoiding the limelight throughout his career, shares his life, philosophy, insecurities, and everything else in vivid detail through this book. Written with R Kaushik, who’s closely followed his career, the book covers his greatest moments (of course, the titular innings is described in depth) the same way as his lowest points (from injuries to insecurities and conflicts in the dressing room). Playing for a team whose fans treat you like a God is never easy, and Laxman’s memoir humanises the person behind the deity.

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Playing To Win

Title: Playing To Win

Author: Saina Nehwal

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 199

Pages: 144


For fans of badminton and sports biographies, our next pick is perfect. We’ve all seen the champion Saina winning medals, conquering the world, and taking Indian badminton to unimagined heights. But how did a girl from Hisar win a medal at the world’s largest stage at just 22 years of age? Playing to Win is the story of her journey to become a world champion. Simultaneously, it’s the story of Nehwal’s various relationships, whether with her mother or her coaches. Written frankly and without any frills, this is the tale of a girl who plays only to conquer.

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The Race of My Life

Title: The Race of My Life

Author: Milkha Singh

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 262

Pages: 160


Milkha Singh’s life has been one of running. Whether he was running from death during Partition, a teenager committing minor crimes and running away from the police, or an athlete who ran to glory, Singh’s life was a race, one that he kept winning despite every barrier. For fans of historical sports biographies and autobiographies, The Race of My Life offers plenty. Written in a style reflecting his life story, Milkha Singh shares his journey and perspectives through this insightful autobiography. From his gripes with the sports administration to his experiences witnessing horrific tragedies, the champion shares it all here.

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A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold

Title: A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold

Author: Abhinav Bindra with Rohit Brijnath

Publisher: Harper Sport

Price: 343

Pages: 292


Abhinav Bindra did what no Indian had ever done before: an individual gold medal at the Olympics. His journey is one of perfection and relentlessly striving toward it. While it’s his life story, it’s primarily the story of his shooting career. Almost winning the gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, he’ll return to the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a man hellbent on redeeming himself. Written with Rohtih Brijnath, A Shot at History is incisive and enthralling, covering his career up till the 2016 Rio Olympics. Fans of inspirational sports biographies must not miss this!

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The Small Wonder

Title: The Small Wonder

Author: Dipa Karmakar

Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing

Price: 379

Pages: 272


Only five women have successfully completed one of the hardest vaults in gymnastics: the Produnova vault, also called “the vault of death.” And yet Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian female gymnast to compete in the Olympics, attempted and finished it gracefully. When the gold medalist, Simone Biles, was asked why she didn’t try the vault, her reply was: I’m not trying to die. Despite her fourth finish, Karmakar was a standout moment for the Indian Olympic expedition, bringing national attention to gymnastics, a sport that had thus been ignored. Among unmissable Indian sports biographies and autobiographies, The Small Wonder is the story of a girl from Tripura whose miraculous journey would take her to the biggest stages and awards.

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Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion’s Life

Title: Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion’s Life

Author: Vishwanathan Anand

Publisher: Hachette India

Price: 322

Pages: 304


Amit Varma aptly writes about Vishwanathan Anand here that his achievements are akin to participating in a Formula One championship with a Maruti 800 and actually winning the title. When you look at the history and discipline of chess, the sentence isn’t exactly a hyperbole, such is his journey and genius. The first chess Grandmaster from Asia has done it all: climbed the biggest chess ranks, won tournaments across formats, and mentored young talents. Lovers of chess and sports biographies would do well to not miss this wise and thrilling piece. Anand not only shares his life journey but also uses his experience to share tools to face your life’s challenges.

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Forgive Me Amma: The Life & Times of Dhanraj Pillay

Title: Forgive Me Amma: The Life & Times of Dhanraj Pillay

Author: Sundeep Mishra

Publisher: Wisdom Tree

Price: 495

Pages: 249


Among the legends of Indian Hockey, Dhanraj Pillay led India in the successful Asia Games and Asia Cup campaigns. One of the most precise (like his game) and seamless sports biographies you’ll ever read, Forgive Me Amma is as much the story of the player in question as of Indian hockey. Mishra writes of Pillay’s mental makeup, his strengths and weaknesses, and the major tournaments he played throughout his career. Moreover, it also talks of the politics involved in Hockey federations, and their negative impact on the game and its players.

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Beyond the Goal: The Biography of Baichung Bhutia

Title: Beyond the Goal: The Biography of Baichung Bhutia

Author: Mohammad Amin-ul Islam

Publisher: Ebury Press

Price: 209

Pages: 224


One of the foremost names that comes to mind when talking of Indian football is Baichung Bhutia, and a list of sports biographies would be thus incomplete without his story. Through Beyond the Goal, Islam shows how Bhutia is to Indian football what Tendulkar is to cricket. Despite the lack of popularity of football in the cricket-obsessed subcontinent, “the Sikkimese Sniper” was the best player in the entire continent and took Indian football to new heights. From his personal and professional relationships to career controversies, this biography has much to explore and enjoy!

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A Biography of Rahul Dravid: The Nice Guy Who Finished First

Title: A Biography of Rahul Dravid: The Nice Guy Who Finished First

Author: Devendra Prabhudesai

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 330

Pages: 300


It’s likely that the first cricketer who comes to your mind when you say “team player” is Rahul Dravid, and not without reason. From wicketkeeping to changing batting positions frequently, Dravid always kept his squad and country first. At the same time, he’s one of the toughest players to play against with his records speaking for themselves: the first batsman to score a Test century against every Test-playing nation, the first contemporary Indian cricketer to take 100 Test cricket catches, the first Indian to score five double centuries, and so on. Now a successful Indian coach, Dravid’s story is one of patience and grit, something fans of sports biographies would enjoy.

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MSD: The Man, The Leader

Title: MSD: The Man, The Leader

Author: Biswadeep Ghosh

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 359

Pages: 264


The next pick in our sports biographies collection is the story of a legendary cricket leader. MS Dhoni changed the face of Indian cricket forever, taking it to new heights with his wit, calm and mastery of the game. But how did a small-town boy from Ranchi become the most influential Indian captain of all time? Filled with anecdotes and thoughts by various sporting legends, MSD: The Man, The Leader is an absorbing, motivational work that’s perfect for fans of Dhoni, cricket, or sports biographies!

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Shuttler's Flick: Making Every Match Count

Title: Shuttler's Flick: Making Every Match Count

Author: Pullela Gopichand with Priya Kumar

Publisher: Simon & Schuster India

Price: 394

Pages: 365


If Pullela’s journey as a player wasn’t miraculous enough (coming back from a risky arthroscopic surgery to winning a Commonwealth Games bronze and becoming the second Indian to win the All-England Championship), his career as a coach is another feat to behold. His students, including World champions like Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi and PV Sindhu, have taken the Indian badminton arena to unimagined heights. But what lies behind this champion player and coach? Shuttler’s Flick is that story. If you love inspiring sports biographies and autobiographies, grab this one right away!

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Wrist Assured: An Autobiography

Title: Wrist Assured: An Autobiography

Author: Gundappa Vishwanath

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 424

Pages: 280


From the crowd throwing matkas at him after his debut innings duck to the same crowd rising and cheering for his century in the very next innings, Gundappa Vishwanath saw it all. His wristy and elegant batting style, also the reason behind the book’s title, was a delight to watch. From the dusty Bangalorean streets to the world’s largest stadiums, his story is one of going beyond middle-class aspirations and the trials and tribulations of a champion cricketer. Wristy Assured is perfect for anyone who enjoys sports biographies or Indian cricket history.

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Swimming Against the Tide

Title: Swimming Against the Tide

Author: Madhavi Latha Prathigudupu

Publisher: Inkfeathers Publishing

Price: 439

Pages: 356


At just seven years of age, Madhavi’s body was paralysed below her shoulders due to a polio attack. Despite the many challenges that lay ahead, with the help of her parents, she became a national para-swimming champion. Through her “Yes, We Too Can!!” movement, she helped other athletes with disabilities to reach their dreams. With several awards and accomplishments to her name, Madhuri’s story is one of the most uplifting sports biographies you’ll read. It’s the story of a young village girl who’ll rise through every challenge and come out triumphant. Breathless at times, but triumphant.

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Fiercely Female: The Dutee Chand Story

Title: Fiercely Female: The Dutee Chand Story

Author: Sundeep Mishra

Publisher: Westland Sport

Price: 750

Pages: 168


One of the most memorable sports biographies you’ll ever read, Fiercely Female is the journey of a girl from a small Odia village to dominating national and global events. But all that came to a supposed end when she was banned under the controversial “hyperandrogenism” policies. Chand took her fight to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and got her ban revoked by national and international bodies. Despite the setback, Chand has won several events afterwards, sculpting her own path to success. Moreover, she’s the first Indian player to openly acknowledge her same-sex relationship after homosexuality was decriminalised in India. This biography shows how to live life on your terms, no matter what.

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A Century is Not Enough

Title: A Century is Not Enough

Author: Sourav Ganguly with Gautam Bhattacharya

Publisher: Juggernaut

Price: 454

Pages: 296


Our last pick of Indian sports biographies and autobiographies is the tale of one of the, if not the, greatest Indian cricket captains. Being appointed the captain at a time when the team was struggling, its morale low, he carved a comeback akin to his many memorable innings. He’s known for his incredible overseas victories and for instilling confidence that would be carried on to successive generations. But how do you succeed under pressure over and over again? How do you navigate through challenges and emerge victorious repetitively? Let Sourav Ganguly tell you himself in his own words with A Century is Not Enough.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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