Born Bombay (Now Mumbai), 1 October 1938
Nicknamed ‘Bombay Tiger’, Michael Ferreira, four times world Billiards champion, was a rebel with a cause during his playing days. In 1981, after winning the world title for a second time, he was offered the Padma Shri while Sunil Gavaskar was conferred with the more prestigious Padma Bhushan. His reply to the Government of India letter was, “My achievements in Billiards are in no way inferior to that of Sunil Gavaskar’s in Cricket. If he deserves a Padma Bhushan, I do too. The Government should treat all games equally.” He refused to accept the award. Throughout his career as a sportsman and later as a columnist, Ferreira has espoused the cause of better facilities for sports other than Cricket.
After he won the world amateur Billiards title for a third time in 1983, the Government of India conferred on Ferreira the Padma Bhushan. He had earlier won the Maharashtra Government’s Shiv Chhatrapati Award in 1970, and the Government of India’s Arjuna Award in 1971.
Ferreira is a lawyer by profession. An alumnus of St. Joseph’s Public School, Darjeeling, he started playing Billiards in 1954 and made his international debut in 1964 in New Zealand. There he finished a close third, losing narrowly to Wilson Jones of India, the ultimate winner and to Jack Karnehm, the runner-up by only 6 points. He was the bridesmaid at London in 1969, despite a record break of 629, and again at Bombay in 1973 and at Auckland in 1975.
Ferreira won the world amateur Billiards championship for the first time at Melbourne in 1977, with the highest break of 519. He followed that triumph with the world open Billiards championship title at Christchurch, New Zealand, completing a unique double. He had proved his worth against the best players from the amateur as well as professional world of Billiards.
In December 1978, he created history by becoming the first amateur to cross the 1000 point barrier by making a new world record break of 1149 in the national championships. He won the world amateur title again in 1981 at New Delhi with a top break of 630, a world record under the three-pot rule.
Ferreira’s exploits at the national and international levels has given a tremendous shot-in-the-arm to cue sports in India, and he has been a role model to the fresh crop of youngsters, including Geet Sethi, who have kept the country’s flag flying high in international competitions. He drives a Cielo, because he ‘loves big cars’, likes good food and wine, and his favourite pastime is reading, writing and listening to western classical music.