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Feb 1, 2013

Wrestlers of different faiths united

Times of India

HYDERABAD: At a time when communal tensions are being constantly flayed in the Old City, Barkas has put up a display of communal harmony through the spirit of sportsmanship at the two-day wrestling event that concluded on Sunday.

About 150 wrestlers from the city grappled for the title of 'Hyderabad Kesari' at a wrestling tournament that the people of Barkas have been organizing for the past 13 years under the aegis of Samaj Sewak association. Though most participants were from the Muslim community, about 40 Hindu wrestlers from Lal Darwaza, Uppuguda and Begum Bazaar also grappled at the arena. Amidst a highly spirited audience they clashed while being mindful of the fact that sportsmanship matters more than anything else.

Osman al Hajri, a yesteryear wrestler and coach, said that wrestling bouts can turn very sensitive but nothing can go wrong if the wrestlers themselves don't get carried away. "Wrestling is a highly competitive sport but wrestlers at all times remain grounded. They wipe sweat off each others' body. But it is those who are outside the ring who can make trouble. The wrestlers do not bear any ill-will against each other," he said.

The scene at the Barkas football ground on Sunday was a testimonial to their commitment to communal harmony. Noted wrestlers of the past from both communities entered the ring to congratulate the winners and honour their victory. Organizers of the tournament said that wrestlers from different faiths are united by the sport.

"When a wrestler enters the ring he assesses his opponent with an aim to win. It does not matter to him what faith his opponent belongs to. Unlike common people from different faiths who may not have a bonding factor, wrestlers are bound by the sport. Respect and appreciation for the opponent is one of the most important lessons we learn," said Khaleed Bhamas, one of the organizers of the tournament.

Young wrestlers only voiced what their seniors said. "When we train, we only see the quality of our teacher. Many of us come to fight and train under Muslim coaches in areas like Barkas and Yakutpura. We are like any other student for our teachers. When we fight we represent our akhada and our teacher. Their reputation rides on our shoulders, reminding us that we are sportsmen," said 18 year-old wrestler Pawan Kumar.

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