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Feb 28, 2010

Wrestling Training with Guru Chand Roop

In this video clip, wrestlers are practicing single-leg takedowns at Guru Chand Roop's akahara in Azadpur. One of the wrestlers isn't executing the move properly so not only does he get a scolding, Guru-ji beats him with his cane. But the wrestler stands and takes his punishment. It's an example of the extreme discipline that is part of a pehlwan's life. While Guru Chand Roop is around 80 years old and can barely walk, what he says goes and wrestlers hang on his every word. They have come to his akhara to be champions and the former military officer has turned out plenty over the years. 

The following excerpt from an article in the Tribune lists some of Guru Chand Roop's achievments:

Captain Chand Roop’s credentials are impeccable. He has produced a number of Olympians, other international and national-level wrestlers, from his famed Chand Roop akhara in Delhi. Ombeer Singh (Asian Games and Asian Championship silver medallist, Olympian, six-time national champion, gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games), Ashok Kumar (two gold and as many silver medals in the Commonwealth Games, two times Asian Games participant and winner of medals in other international meets) and Rohtash Singh Dahiya (fifth in the Los Angeles Olympics, two gold medals in the SAF Games and a bronze in the Asian Championship), are some of his most famous products. Olympian Dharambeer, Bharat Kesari and Commonwealth silver medallist Netra Pal, Bharat Kesari and Bharat Kumar Vijay Kumar, Hind Kesari Krishan Kumar, Hind Kesari Sonu and Junior Asian Championship bronze medallist Sanjay are some of the other notable grapplers to have come out of the Chand Roop akhara.

Delhi Akharas- the ‘gripping’ capital

There’s certainly more to being active than just hitting the treadmill. Delhi, the capital of India, teems with all sorts of physical, ‘outdoorsy’ stuff such as wrestling, riding, and similar sort of gripping games. If one is a fitness freak with a pugnacious streak, and wants to try out some good ol’ Indian style wrestling, well, Delhi certainly doesn’t disappoint. There are many traditional akharas here that can provide the perfect workout for those who don’t mind dirt and grime.
Near the banks of the Yamuna, is Hari Nagar where a multitude of akharas can be found. These look like factory sheds, all set about with trees and adorned with many pictures of Lord Hanuman. Also adorning the walls are pictures of regular ‘pahalwans’, who are supposed to be ‘Brahmcharis’- celibate, single men.
The pride of the place is the wrestling pit where all the action takes place. If one turns up at an akhara at any day of the week, excluding Tuesday (the day of Lord Hanuman), between 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., one can surely hear the grunts of a wrestling match in progress. It is pretty amazing to see the six feet and above pahalwans, that comprise the majority of the crowd, as well as others that vary between five to seven feet.
Akharas don’t use wrestling mats to cushion the ‘pahalwans.’ Instead, there is the soft soil of the fertile banks of Yamuna. The common feature of each akhara is a ‘guru’ for all the budding ‘pahalwans’. The akharas charge a fee and conduct tournaments. The prize money can vary- from a few thousands to even fifty grand. The “Kushti Kala Kendra” akhara doesn’t charge any fee, and anyone can join this akhara. The founder and ‘guru’ of this esteemed akhara is Hukumi who’s been a trainer for last thirty years. Before that, he had been a wrestler for fifteen years. Retired now, he maintains a very well disciplined akhara.
“It takes two years just to come to grips of the techniques”, said one ‘guru’. There is no age bar in any of these akharas and admission is open even if any one wants to join at a mature age. The practice sessions take place between 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on all days except Tuesday. Before a match, the pahalwans/combatants/wrestlers pay obeisance to the wrestling pit every single time- and even rub some soil on their bodies for luck.
Our Olympic representatives like Sushil Kumar and Ashok Kumar were the products of these humble ‘akharas’. Rather than leaning ‘westward’, we should learn to take pride in them. Do go for a ‘dekko’ at these wrestling arenas, who knows, even you might be tempted to join up.

Feb 23, 2010

Wrestlers training in Kolhapur

Kolhapur is one of the centers of traditional wrestling in India. At Motibag Akhara, wrestlers also train in freestyle wrestling. The ground floor has a pit for kushti but upstairs there are mats.

Feb 22, 2010

Kushti Photos by Anamitra Chakladar

LINK to Photo Gallery

Wrestling is expected to boost India’s medal tally in 2010

Golden comeback: Yogeshwar Dutt (right) is aiming for an Olympic medal / Photo: Sanjay Ahlawat

By Neeru Bhatia
The Week
It is a windy winter morning in Sonepat, Haryana. On the sprawling grounds of the Sports Authority of India’s northern regional centre a group of hefty blokes in track suits and beanies are warming up under the watchful eyes of their coaches. Their broad shoulders and heavy build are a giveaway. The senior national wrestling camp is underway here.

Unlike a cricket or even a hockey camp, this camp is shorn of media attention. Missing are the long rows of TV cameras, photographers lugging telephoto lenses and groups of important-looking reporters speaking urgently into their mobile phones, tracking every second of the action.

But the lack of glamour does not lessen the achievements of these wrestlers. Among the 17 wrestlers here are an Olympic medallist, a World Championship bronze winner and an Asian champion. In the upcoming sports season, the 17 are expected to bring home a basketful of medals. The main meets awaiting them are Asian Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Chief coach Jagminder Singh, who came fourth in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, is confident about his wards. “Indians always had good technique, it is only in speed that we used to get beaten. We are focusing on improving in this area,” he said.

Deputy coach Vladimir Mestvirishvili, a Georgian, too, is all praise for his Indian wards. He, however, rues the lack of a professional sports system in the country.

“We expect quite a lot of medals in the Commonwealth Games,” said Jagminder. “Other than the celebrated trio—Sushil Kumar, Ramesh Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt—we have a few others with potential in the 55kg category—Vimal Kumar, Anil Kumar and Balraj Singh. There is Joginder Kumar and Rajiv Tomar in the 120kg category.” Jagminder is preparing the team for the Asian Championships. As part of the preparations, two teams have gone to the US and Cuba.

In the recent Commonwealth Wrestling Championships held in Jalandhar, Indian wrestlers did well. With Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Sushil Kumar leading the way, the freestyle wrestlers bagged all seven golds in their category.

One of the reasons for the good showing by Indian wrestlers in recent years is the change in the format of camps. Earlier, short camps were held for selected wrestlers just ahead of a major competition,  but now camps are almost yearlong. Thanks to the upcoming Commonwealth Games, SAI has bought state-of-the-art training equipment, including gym equipment from Italy for Rs 4 crore.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers stay together in the SAI hostel, and their progress is closely monitored. Almost all hail from nearby areas in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and so no one complains about the lengthy camp. A bout of homesickness is rectified by a quick trip to the village or a visit from friends and family during off time.

There are three who stand out in the camp—Sushil, 2009 World Wrestling Championship bronze medallist Ramesh and Dutt, the 2008 Asian Championship gold medallist and 2006 Asiad bronze medallist. Rope climbing is a tested exercise to improve a wrestler’s grip. Sushil climbs the rope around 200 times in an hour, much to the awe of the others. “That is why he is one of the best!” quipped one wrestler.

Sushil’s life revolves around his akhada at the derelict Chhatrasal Stadium in north Delhi, where he honed his technique. In July 2009, he went from the akhada to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. He was absent from the pre-awards lunch and shunned the five-star hotel, where all other athletes were put up, to be with other wrestlers at the cramped quarters in the stadium.

Sushil won the gold at the recently concluded Commonwealth championships, a brilliant comeback after his disappointing performance at the World Championships last year. “After the Olympic bronze, I aim to win the gold. Besides, all four main competitions this year are big. I have to perform well there,” said Sushil. He is aware that the Beijing win has raised the profile of, and expectations about, wrestling. “In between there was a time when kids had stopped taking to wrestling,” he said. “I see them joining akhadas again.”

Dutt, 27, is rated as one of the top six wrestlers in the 60kg category worldwide. When THE WEEK watched him practise, Dutt was dressed in a black T-shirt, which had a picture of two wrestlers in action, black tights and black, lightweight training shoes. Nimble on his feet, he sparred with his partner, and the rippling muscles of his legs highlighted his excellent physical conditioning.

It is hard to believe that this is the same Dutt who heartbreakingly missed out on an Olympic medal in 2008 and then suffered a career-threatening knee injury during the national trials in 2009. His anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, the most important ligaments in the knee, were torn. “When I tried to walk, my leg would just collapse,” recalled Dutt. “I was away from wrestling for six months. That was very tough.” Dutt had started wresting when he was nine; he began at the akhada in his village, Bhainswal Kalan, in Sonepat district. Jagminder calls Dutt hardworking and focused.


Wrestling tourney gets good response

The Hindu

Going for gold: Participants at the wrestling championship in Chitradurga on Sunday.
Chitradurga: Hundreds of wrestling enthusiasts flocked to the Old Middle School Ground here on Sunday to witness the II State-level Wrestling Championship, traditionally known as the Jhangi Kusti. Nearly 46 wrestlers from the State and Maharashtra participated in the championship, which was organised by the Kannada Sena Samiti.
The ancient sport has always been popular in the region.
Samiti president Jaishankar said: “We organise this tournament with the intention of preserving this age-old sport, interest in which is gradually diminishing in urban areas.”
Pehelwan Tippeswamy of Burujanahatti, pehelwan Maradi of Karuvina katte and pehelwan Rehman of Horapete were the referees.
Participants had come from places such as Belgaum, Dharwad, Davangere, Sangli, Kolhapur and Chitradurga. As many as 12 wrestlers from Chitradurga participated in the championship.
Inaugurating the championship, S.K. Basavarajan, MLA, stressed on the need to preserve the “garadi manegalu” (wresting houses) of Chitradurga.
He also promised to financial assistance for the “garadis” in the city.

Freestyle wrestling in Hyderabad

Feb 20, 2010

Wrestling Match from Kushti Dangal in Haryana

During most of this dangal in the village of Sampli in Haryana, several pairs of wrestlers would compete at the same time. And still, not all the wrestlers who showed up to compete got a chance to wrestle. The dangal was only a few hours long and the turnout was huge.

Feb 18, 2010

More from Guru Munni wrestling world cup

Historical Wrestling photo by Kulwant Roy

Wrestling champ Daula pins down his English adversary Clark to the patent dismay of the referee, at a fundraiser for the Lahore Warplanes Fund, the Police Spitfire Fund and the Minto Park Fund, in Lahore in the late 1930s

Feb 15, 2010

Report on Vishal Inami Dangal

By Deepak Ansuia Prasad

On Feb. 12, 2010, India celebrated Mahashivaratri, a Hindu festival marking the wedding day of Shiva with Parvati. On this the auspicious occasion, a Vishal Inami Dangal (huge traditional wrestling competition for cash prizes) was organized.
The dangal, was a tribute to Guru Munni and Chandagi Ram ji, both renowned wrestlers and Guru Jis, or coaches, who made enormous contributions to Indian wrestling.
The dangal was organized by the pradhan, or chief, of Ram Johari Temple, Palam and a renowned wrestler as well Sh. Rajinder Pahlwan at Ram Johari Temple, Near Sector -1. petrol pump dwarka, New Delhi.
Special guests were Sh. Mahabal Mishra, member of parliament, Ch. Pratap Narayan, pradhan Surat Singh, Hira Mishra, Moti Lal Bairwa and Vikram Singh Negi and, of course all the Guruji’s coaches, Khalifa, renowned wrestlers and other respectable leaders from the community.

Wrestler from all over Delhi and adjoining states were invited to compete. The first, second and third prize was Rs. 21000/-, 11000/- and 5100/-, and so on. The prizes started from Rs. 10/-, for the youngest of the seeds, and there were competition for other prizes like Rs. Rs. 500/- 1100/-, 2100/-, 3100/- etc.
There was a huge crowd of wrestling fans gathered to watch the spectacular event. In the packed temple ground, spectators were shouting like kids on a rollercoaster ride, while the wrestlers were trying to pin their opponents.
It was a full-on entertainment for the onlookers. The excitement reached its peak during the last wrestling bout for the prize 21000/-.
The two well-trained wrestlers, Vikram Pehlwan of Sh. Guru Jasram Akhada, at Okhla Tank, New Delhi, and Parvesh, who wore red trunks (janghia), stole the show by their sheer power, tactics and fighting spirit.
The duration of their bout were extended many times by the dangal organizing committee on the requests of the referee, coaches and even the spectators,
Vikram kept his fighting spirit till the end even after he fell outside the pit onto the hard surface outside the ring and injured himself.
The bout was declared undecided eventually. The prize was distributed to both of them in equal parts. And the organizing committee went further to honor them with Rs. 2000/- each on the top of the prize for their fighting spirit and the way they entertained the crowd.
It was a memorable day for the visitors. It is unbelievable, without any help either from the government or corporate sponsors, that such incredible events take place in almost every corner of India.
Ordinary citizens and wrestling fans like Mr Vikram Singh Negi, an engineer by profession who contributed Rs. 21000/- for the final bout, exemplify the love of Indians for the sport. These are the people who keep the age-old tradition of Indian wrestling alive.