Geet Siriram Sethi (born 17 April 1961) of India is a professional player of English billiards who dominated the sport throughout much of the 1990s, and a notable amateur (ex-pro) snooker player. He is a six-time winner of the professional-level and a three-time winner of the amateur World Championships, and holder of two world records, in English billiards. He, along with Prakash Padukone, has co-founded Olympic Gold Quest, a Foundation for the Promotion of Sports in India.
Born in Delhi and grew up in Ahmedabad, Sethi won his first major English billiards event in 1982, the Indian National Billiards Championship (an international event despite its name), defeating Michael Ferreira, and went on to win the NBC again four years in a row, 19851988, and made a comeback in both 1997 and 1998 to reclaim the title.
He rose to international prominence by winning the IBSF World Amateur Billiards Championships in 1985, versus Bob Marshall in an eight-hour-long final round. In 1987, he again won the IBSF event, as well as the ACBS Asian Billiards Championship He won another World Amateur Billiards title 2001, despite having previously played as a pro by that date.
Sethi also took the Indian National Snooker Championships four times back to back, in the same 19851988 span as his national English billiards streak. In the 1989 event, held at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, though he did not take the title, he did achieve the world’s first amateur maximum break of 147 in official competition. He has never placed in the top snooker world rankings, however. Sethi is the only person in the history of cue-sports to have scored a maximum (147) in competitive snooker and a 1000+ break in competitive billiards.
In the 1992 World Professional Billiards Championship, Sethi constructed a world-record English billiards and won first place. He went on to win the title again in 1993, 1995, 1998, and 2006.
He has been described as an “arch-rival” of Mike Russell of England, also an eight-time English billiards World Champion, and each of them had defeated the other for the title, with Russell victorious in 1996, and Sethi the winner in 1998, as of their next encounter at the 2007 event. They both scored two triple centuries apiece in the semi-finals, but Russell kocked Sethi out of the running, 18351231 (65.5 vs. 45.6 average); Russell eventually won the title, for his ninth World crown.
Sethi won gold and silver medals in doubles and singles English billiards respectively at the 13th Asian Games (1998, Bangkok, Thailand). He also won silver and bronze medals in doubles and singles English billiards respectively at the 14th Asian Games (2002, Busan, South Korea). At the 15th Asian Games (2006, Doha, Quatar), he took bronze medal in English billiards (men’s doubles with Ashok Harishankar Shandilya).
He has announced plans to compete in the Olympic Games for India when cue sports are finally admitted as Olympic sports (long in-progress between the World Confederation of Billiard Sports and the International Olympic Committee).
Sethi’s professional management agent, TNQ Sponsorship, commented that he “has been focussing on the sport with renewed enthusiasm” and “seems to be peaking at the right time”.
World Professional Billiards Championship results
- 1992: Won (beat Mike Russell, 2529718)
- 1993: Won (beat Mike Russell, 21391140)
- 1994: Semi-finalist (lost to Peter Gilchrist, 9161312)
- 1995: Won (beat Devendra Joshi, 1661931)
- 1996: Runner-up (lost to Mike Russell, 18482534)
- 1997: Event was not held
- 1998: Won (beat Mike Russell, 14001015)
- 2000: Event was not held
- 2001: Quarter-finalist
- 2002: Semi-finalist (lost to Peter Gilchrist, 8511767)
- 2003: Lost in the group stage
- 2004: Quarter-finalist (lost to David Causier, 722971)
- 2006: Won (beat England’s Lee Lagan, 20731057)
- 2007: Semi-finalist (lost to Mike Russell, 12311835)
- 2008: Runner-up (lost to Mike Russell, 13421821)
- World Professional Billiards Champion: 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2006
- World Amateur Billiards Champion: 1985, 1987, 2001
- Gold Medalist, 13th Asian Games, Bangkok 1998
- Asian Billiards Champion: 1987
- National Billiards Champion: 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998
- National Snooker Champion: 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988
Awards and recognition
A major sporting hero in India, he is a recipient of India’s highest sporting award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for 19921993; both the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award in 1986; and the K.K. Birla Award, 1993.
Sethi lives in Ahmedabad, with his wife Kiran Bir Sethi and their two children, Raag, and Jazz. In addition to billiards competitions, Sethi also runs a private travel agency in Ahmedabad and Mumbai called Raag Travels. Sethi has an MBA from the B.K. School of Business Management, Gujarat University and is an alumnus of St. Xavier’s High School and St. Xavier’s College in Ahmedabad.
In 2005 he authored an autobiographical motivational book called Success vs Joy.
Currently he is promoting a venture called Olympic Gold Quest, committed to supporting Indian sportspersons with Olympic medal-winning potential.