By Deepak Ansuia Prasad
It was about 1 am by the time we reached Jagdev Pahalwan’s akhada, deep in the countryside of Punjab. We intended to get there much earlier, but Jagdev Pahalwan welcomed us despite the late hour, meeting us with his brothers and taking us to his home where we had some rest.
The next morning we started out for the akhada as the wrestlers were beginning their practice. Jagdev Pahlwan’s brothers Major and Ranjeet were busy preparing the akhdaa for the day, tending the mud then leveling it with a heavy wooden log called medi.
The akhada is a few kilometers away from the main village, surrounded by an orange grove where the wrestlers pick fresh fruit to supplement their diet. Aside from the wrestling pit, there is a large matroom and weight training area.
As the big wrestlers Jassa, Sumit, Somvir and Ravi were warming up Jagdev Pahlwan told me that his father, the late Shree Karan Singh and his grandfather, the late Shree Inder Singh were great wrestlers who established the akhada some 30 years ago.
His father went to Canada in search of employment and also wrestled while he was there. But while he was in India, he took on some of the greatest wrestlers of his day, including kartar singh, mehrdeen and sukhchain .
Jagdev learned the art of wrestling from his father and has compiled an impressive record battling many big stars of Indian wrestling, like Joginder, rajiv tomar, and Kamaljeet. Jagdev even said he once defeted the great wrestler rohit patel, also known as laddu.
A great wrestler of Punjab called puma of dera babaa nanak was so skilled that no one had dared to challenge him until Jagdev threw his hat in the ring and ended up winning the match.
When asked if the government ought to do more to provide better facilities for wrestlers, Jagdev said that if wrestlers want to be rewarded, they must first produce results.
“If a wrestler wins awards, the government will be more likely to help out. “
In any case, Jagdev is committed to improving his akhada and plans to make room for more wrestlers to train and become champions.
MORE PHOTOS COMING LATER!