Vegan racquets fashioned from reverence for life, tennis

While many continue to associate a vegan lifestyle with just dietary restrictions, Dr Chinny Krishna, co-founder of Blue Cross of India, explained that the term extends to all aspects of life. The ardent tennis fan realised this in 1973 when he designed one of the first ‘vegan’ tennis racquets.
Vegan racquets fashioned from reverence for life, tennis
Dr Chinny Krishna,Co-founder of Blue Cross of India

Chennai

“I am a tennis fan, and I have always wanted to be conscious of the equipment I used. We must have reverence for life, and that includes animal life,” said Dr Krishna.

The racquet is made of aluminium with synthetic strings and was the first racquet with vinyl rexine or an artificial leather grip. Earlier, racquets were made with catgut, or chords made of animal intestines. But the introduction of nylon strings in the 50s replaced this. However, the handles were made of leather.

“There was almost no material that could absorb sweat and perspiration like the available grips, which were all made of leather. I contacted Bohr Industries and they provided vinyl rexine grips, which were a little rough and capable of absorbing perspiration,” he said.

Having started production for 1,200 units out of his factory in Guindy, Dr Krishna began looking for local and foreign sporting goods retailers to sell the products. However, due to production costs and low production margins, he was unable to sell the product wholesale.

The remaining units were given to friends, family, and clubs to give as gifts at events. Dr Krishna said he is not interested in continuing production as large players now do sell vegan racquets.

“However, some elements of sportswear, such as shoes, still have some leather in the padding. It is important for sportspeople to speak up on this issue. For example, racecar driver Lewis Hamilton spoke to push for vegan leather to be adopted in Mercedez-Benz, and it was followed,” he said.

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