By Deepak Ansuia Prasad
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Wrestling is the world’s oldest sport. In India it is called kushti and the wrestlers compete in a pit filled with soil. You can watch kushti everywhere in rural India. Wrestlers practice under a guru and showcase their strength and skills at local wrestling competitions called dangals where they can earn recognition and handsome prizes too.
Historically, kings, nawabs, landlords or wealthy businessmen supported the akharas, or local wrestling clubs where wrestlers lived and trained and wrestling culture flourished. However, under British rule, the system declined and after independence the Indian government showed no interest in supporting wrestling either.
This lack of support was the main reason that akharas shut down and fewer young people took up the sport. In many states where wrestling culture once thrived, it has almost disappeared.
However, a few selfless gurus, kushti lovers and wrestlers have kept the tradition alive by teaching for free, arranging funds for akhadas from their own pockets. My guru, Jasram Singh, is one such example. He taught his disciples for free since he opened the akhada some 40 years ago and he is still doing it. These great men kept kushti alive in the hearts of people too by showcasing the body, skills and might of wrestlers at dagals and also carried it on from one generation to next.
The highest title of kushti is Hind Kesri or Lion of India. The competition for the title has been organized by the All India Wrestling Federation (Indian style) since 1956. Presently Mr Ram aasre yadav ji is the president of the organization. The event is being carried on by Shri Roshan Lal ji general secretary of the institution, along with Sh. Shiv Kumar Sharma ji, treasurer of the organization. The organization has its state level sub institutions and this time the Haryana chapter, headed by sh Nafe Singh Rathi, organized the event at his home town Bahadurgarh in Haryana. Nafe singh ji was a very good wrestler of his time who was also two times MLA of Bahadurgarh.
This was 47th competition and apart from Hind Kesri title competition there were wrestling matches for other awards too. All the matches including the title competition were to be decided on of points.
The event was inaugurated by Lt. Gen. Raj Kadyan at the Martyr Brigadier late Hoshiyar Singh Stadium at Bahadurgarh Haryana, followed by cultural programs of the local school children. In the final day of the competition president of Indian Olympic committee Khel Ratn Sh. Abhay singh chautala graced the event with his presence.
The Title Match
Parvesh and Hitesh battled for the Hind Kesri title. Both have won in the past, but this time, Hitesh was able capture the title on the basis of points. Hitesh was awarded a silver Mace and two lakhs cash prize also. The mace and the prize were given to him by chief guest Sh. Abhay singh Chautala. Parvesh was also given one lakh prize, while Mintoo and Rubal were given fifty thousands each as prize for placing third and fourth.
Championship on the basis of weights.
In 84+kg Sonu of Delhi and Sandeep of Haryana came first and second, while Babar was third.
In 84 kg category Karnveer of Bihar stood first while Pradeep of forces stood second. Pradeep of Chandigarh and manjit of goa took third and fourth place.
In 74kg weight category Anil of Delhi, Vinod of Gujrat stood first and second respectively while Gurmail of Goa and Krishan of NCR remained third and fourth.
In 66kg weight category Vikas of Haryana first and Sandeep of Delhi stood second and Pradeep of forces stood third.
In 60kg weight category Baba Saheb Madne stood First from Maharashtra , Bijender of NCR stood second, and Lakhan Patel of Madhya pardesh remained third.
In 55kg weight category Anil of Haryana stood first, Deepak of Delhi came second while Manish of Bihar stood third.
Veteren wrestlers honored
Nafe singh ji invited many veteran wrestlers to be honored, including the No. 1 wrestler of India Udai Chand, Suresh, Ashok Garg, Sujit Man, Shokinder Tomar, Dharmender Dalal, satywan, Ombir pahlwan and many others. The gurus, coaches, veteran wrestlers and other special invitees from all the states were also present in the event. Nafe Singh Rathi ji honored all of them before the crowed which is a tradition of the competition. A shawl, a track suit, a gift pack and cash were given to all of them.
Leelu pahlwan guru of Leelu pahlwan of Leelu Akahda village Ladpur Haryana helped Nafe singh ji in carrying out the event successfully. He was also honored by Nafe singh rathi ji. Nafe Singh Rathi ji was also honored on behalf of the Indian Wrestling association and the people of Bahadurgarh. Vijender Singh Rathi and his team of volunteers contributed in the arrangements. Journalists from local newspapers also covered the event and they were all honored by Nafe singh rathi.
Renowned singer Rajbala and Nardev Beniwal.
Rajbala is the No. 1 Indian folk singer along with Nardev Beniwal. She wished to contribute to the event and came along with her band. She along with Nardev Beniwal sung many folk songs before the crowed while the wrestling matches went on. She didn’t charge a penny. All the people appreciated the daughter of Bahadurgarh for her selfless service to her community. I also thank her for such a good work she did.