Prakash Padukone, dominated the national badminton scene for almost a decade (1971–80) and put India on the sport’s international map. Padukone participated in the Karnataka State Junior Championship, his first official Badminton tournament in 1962, wherein he lost right in the first round. Improving his performance, Padukone was able to win the State Junior Championship 2 years later in 1964. Later, he won the National Junior Badminton Championship in the year 1970. In the same year, he occurred to witness the legendry Badminton player, Rudi Hartono of Indonesia playing a power packed game, full of aggressiveness and power, at Jabalpur, India. Getting inspired by him, Padukone decided to change his style of game from mild to aggressive. There was no looking back for him. He won the national senior championship in 1971 at age 16, thereby becoming the youngest player to have achieved the feat. He won each successive national championship until 1979, setting a record of nine national titles in a row. In 1978 he won the singles badminton gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
The following year he completely dominated the top European players of his era and won both the Danish Open and the Swedish Open. His greatest accomplishment came in 1980 when he became the first Indian to win the All England Championships, the world’s most prestigious annual badminton competition. The All England win catapulted Padukone to the number one world badminton ranking, making him the first Indian to achieve that status.
Padukone won the first Alba World Cup in October 1981 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the first Indian open prize-money tournament, the Indian Masters (now the India Open), at Pune in November. In 1982 he won the Dutch Open and the Hong Kong Open, and at the 1983 world championships, Padukone won the bronze medal in men’s badminton. Padukone was conferred upon the Arjuna Award in 1972 and was awarded the Padmashri in 1982. He was known as the ‘Gentle Tiger’ on the court. In 1994, he launched The Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy at Bengaluru to nurture Badminton talents.