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Jan 1, 2012

The Holy Art of Indian Wrestling

By Andrew Spooner, Travelwire Asia

Delhi is not renowned for its light and space. Nor for its healthy living. Nonetheless, this morning, I’m kicking a ball around with a bunch of large, muscular men on the open, grassy banks of the Yamuna River, the Indian capital’s main waterway.

The sun is casting a magical play of rising light and the air is almost fresh. Every few minutes, a new powerfully built man appears and our football match slowly takes on the image of a playful 20-a-side brawl.

As each man arrives a curious thing happens – they humbly touch the feet of the biggest man there. Jagdish Kaliraman should have a picture of himself in the dictionary next to the word ‘big’. When you stand beside him his shadow seems to block out the sun. As each man touches Kaliraman’s feet they gaze up in awe. At 6feet 2 inches and 16 stone, it’s easy to understand why. Moreover, Kaliraman is a Guru, a teacher held in the highest esteem. These men are mud-wrestlers and Kaliraman is the champion of one of the sub-continent’s oldest sports.


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