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Dec 30, 2009

Joginder wins ‘Hind Kesari Title’

PUNE, Dec 28: Delhi boy Joginder Singh claimed the "Hind Kesari Title" defeating Hitesh from Haryana by 4-1 points in a keen final of the 43rd edition of the title bout at Loni, near here.
The title bout last night saw a big crowd of more than 50,000.
The 22-yr old Joginder should have floored the rival despite having missed many chances during the grappling. He was trailing by one point in the opening round as the Haryana grappler showed agility to give his rival some anxious moments.
However, Joginder bounced back in the second round to use the various combination of strategies to not only reduce the margin but took a two points lead.
Having gained in confidence, Joginder did not allow Hitesh any leeway and continued his attacking postures and could have floored the rival.(PTI)

Dec 26, 2009

Indian Kushti Wrestling in Varanasi - Photos by Danny Ghitis

The ancient tradition of Indian wrestling, known as kushti, thrives in Varanasi, one of the world's oldest cities. Wrestling gyms, or akhara, scattered around the city are of the few places where Hindu men from different casts are considered equals. Aside from bodybuilding, practitioners emphasize a life of discipline and celibacy. But as modernity sweeps India and Western sports like cricket become more popular, some akhara are being abandoned. While some prominent, government-run gyms switched to mats for Olympic-style wrestling, akhara in villages and towns maintain the old ways.

Search for MMA fighters in akharas in Lahore

Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan had the opportunity to visit Bamma Pehelwan's Akhara which is located on the back side of Lahore fort. There we met Bashir Bhola Bhala, the best pehelwan (wrestler) from Pakistan and talked to him about Mixed Martial Arts and possibly competing in a tournament held in Pakistan by FITESelektor.

For more information and updates about the tournament or possible competitors, visit:

Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan (


हिंदकेसरी स्पर्धेवर बहिष्कार - चंद्रहार पाटील

सांगली - डबल महाराष्ट्र केसरी चंद्रहार पाटील याने पुणे जिल्ह्यात होणाऱ्या हिंदकेसरी कुस्ती स्पर्धेवर बहिष्कार टाकण्याचा निर्णय घेतला आहे. नुकत्याच सांगवी (पिंपरी-चिंचवड) येथे झालेल्या महाराष्ट्र केसरी स्पर्धेत त्याच्यासह महाराष्ट्र केसरी सईद चाऊसवर झालेला अन्याय व राजकारणामुळे हा निर्णय घेत असल्याचे त्याने "सकाळ'शी बोलताना सांगितले. त्याच्या या निर्णयामुळे कुस्ती क्षेत्रात खळबळ उडाली आहे.

'Maharashtra Kesari' Vijay Bankar meets Raj Thackeray

Mumbai, Dec 20 : Vijay Bankar, winner of the 53rd 'Maharashtra Kesari' wrestling competition, today met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray at the latter's residence 'Krishnakunj' in Shivaji Park here.

Addressing to mediapersons after the visit, Vijay alias Viki Bankar, who had come from Pune said, 'I asked some questions to Rajsaheb. I also expressed my wish to participate in 'Hind Kesari' and other national, international wrestling competitions including the World Championship. He assured me all possible help for the same.' A procession celebrating Bankar's victory was also organised on the occasion.

'I gave idea of the problems faced by wrestlers, even winners of 'Maharastra Kesari' after retirement from the game to Rajsaheb.

He assured help to form a Trust for these wrestlers. I will meet him in January next year along with these wrestlers, hold discussion and we will form the trust', MNS MLA Ramesh Wanjale who accompanied Bankar during the visit, said.

'Vijay's father was my Guru. I am sure Viki has the potential to win big tournaments such as 'Hind Kesari'. Wrestling is a polite game. We will make all efforts to spread awareness of the game,' Mr Wanjale added.

Vijay Bankar defeated Saeed Chaus of Beed and won the prestigious 'Maharashtra Kesari' tournament on December 18 in Pune and became the 38th 'Maharashtra Kesari'. His father late Hiraman Bankar had won the title in the competition held at Akluj in 1976.


Dec 24, 2009

Inside the Akharas: by David Eden

Link to photo blog Inside the Akharas by David Eden

Tucked away on a narrow side street and nestled behind the temple to which the akhara is affiliated, the peaceful, bucolic nature of its training ground belies its purpose. Sun streams in through green leaves, birds flit through branches, colourful paintings of chimeric figures adorn white walls. The only clues as to the real use of these gardens are a dirt ring in their centre, and the cauliflower ears and crooked nose of a bearlike man of advancing years sitting shirtless on the grass. His name is Babu and he is the akhara’s guru. Once a great competitive pehlwan, he is now responsible for the philosophical and pugilistic education of younger practitioners, many of whom turn up every day to exercise and perfect their technique.

True to form, by 7am a group of men and boys, ranging from their mid-teens to their mid-thirties, are stood around the perimeter, curling fixed-weight metal dumbbells, lifting rocks, swinging outsize stone maces and twirling wooden clubs, all in accordance with a long-established regimen largely derived from the principles of hathah yoga. In addition to gruelling workouts such as this, pehlwani demands the achievement of a holistic purity of body and mind, the balancing of passivity and passion. Consequently, to counteract the rajasic (active) nature of their chosen pastime, its teachers encourage students to adopt sattvic (calm) lifestyles of abstinence, vegetarianism, celibacy and meditation. However, the days when a wrestler could dedicate himself to the sport absolutely are long past. If only in order to afford a sattvic diet (based around milk, ghee, chickpeas, almonds and fresh vegetables) in an increasingly dynamic national economy, contemporary pehlwan, largely lower-caste men in the first place, have to take outside employment. Meanwhile, the akharas are funded by their temples and by voluntary donations from members and private individuals. Regardless of the encroachments of the modern world, a soothing air of ancient ritual and contemplation still seems to hang over this location.

The sense of tranquility is short-lived, though. At 8am, with the chime of bells and a fragrant waft of nag champa, the ring is blessed. Two men enter, dressed in bright red loincloths. One is aquiline and rangy, the other shorter and heavily muscled. Both kneel, toss handfuls of damp sand over themselves, then stand and face off. At no discernible signal, but at a point that seems perfectly apt, they clasp each other by the shoulders, leaning in to create an oppositional arch. After a brief period of exploratory pushing and shoving, the stockier of the two men forces his head down and gets underneath his opponent, driving forwards and sending clouds of orange dust into the air with his feet. In response, the taller one goes on the offensive, forcing the other man all the way to the other side of the arena. Then, in a split second, his rival reaches for his legs, whips them out from underneath him, lifts him upside down and slams him into the floor. Twin sounds mingle: one, a stifled grunt of pain, the other calling to mind the dull thud of a side of meat hitting a butcher’s block.

Compared to boxing or many of the better-known East Asian martial arts, it is easy to consider wrestling a relatively low-impact pursuit; more a two-person game of strategy and physics than anything genuinely damaging. However, the strength and agility of these men makes for truly punishing clashes. The power with which throws are performed in the many competitive bouts that occur predominantly during the “hot season” is, I am told, often bone-shattering. As this particular contest moves to the floor, pehlwani’s elaborate repertoire of chokes, holds and pins is also shown to be brutally effective. What were once two separate bodies become a single tangle of flailing limbs. As an older instructor – white-haired, bearded and dressed in a bright pink shawl – shouts advice and encouragement from the sidelines, I fire off a volley of shots with my camera, capturing blurs of motion, sprays of sand, contorted faces.

Dec 22, 2009

Chandrahar Patil Out of Hind Kesari

Pune News

Wrestling bouts in Maharashtra mired in controversy as the main players showing unwillingness to participate.

Chandrahar Patil, the wrestler who recently lost in the Maharashtra Kesari tournament in Pune, has opted out of Hind Kesari competition. The wrestler said he would like to keep away from Pune owing to rioting by the spectators.

In the recently held Maharashtra Kesari, the spectators had rushed into the well after Saeed Chaus seemed to win the game. Before that, Patil had to lose the fight because of rioting by people. This has cause a controversy in the wrestling circle in the state.

Patil, a two time Maharashtra Kesari today declared he will not participate in the tournament which will take place at Lonikand between December 24 to 26. Hind Kesari is a national level competition which is highly esteemed title in the wrestlers in India. Patil had created history in January this year by winning the Maharashtra Kesari title for the second consecutive year.

CITU mourns death of wrestler ‘Rustum-i-Jammu’

Jammu Dec 21: Javaid Zargar, Working President, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has expressed deep shock over the sudden death of “Rastum Jammu”, Pahlwan Abdul Rashid Sheikh, who died yesterday.
‘Wrestler Abdul Rashid Sheikh won title of Rastum-I-Jammu some 12 years back and had devoted his life to promote the Indian style of wrestling, he said. ‘Hailing from a remote background from village Thaloran Tehsil Gandoh district Doda, he inspired youths of the area to take part in sports activities. “The loss in the shape of his death created a vacuum which is impossible to be filled said Comrade Zargar who also has extended sympathies with the bereaved family.

Dec 21, 2009

Minister, 70, enters wrestling ring

GULBARGA: Karnataka animal husbandry minister Revunaik Belamagi may be a champion in the cut-and-thrust of modern politics, but he was also a wrestling champion once. The 70-year-old showed wrestling skills for more than half-an-hour here at the Chandrashekhar Patil Stadium on Sunday.
In his youth, Belamagi was reputed to be good at wrestling, a sport popular in the rural north Karnataka region.
“When I was young, I was very strong and loved to wrestle. But my father would scold me and disallow me to take part. I left the sport at the age of 45, when I contested for the assembly for the first time,’’ he said.
‘‘After that, it was on and off. I used to participate when I was a gram panchayat member and as mandal panchayat chief. I felt very nostalgic.”

maharashtra kesari pune, vijay bankar

Dec 19, 2009

Vijay Bankar Is New Maharashtra Kesari

Pune News

Vijay Bankar from Pune became the Maharahstra Kesari this year. He defeated Saeed Chaus from Beed in a largely attended wrestling fight.

Maharashtra Kesari is the most prestigious wrestling title in the state. This year's fight took place at Mamasaheb Mohol stadium in Sangvi. The high votage show reached to its zenith when many viewers broke into the ground forcing police to lathicharge them.

Vijay Bankar is a product of Rustum-e-Hind Harishchandra Birajdar of Gokul Talim. He dedicated his title to his late father Hiraman Bankar. With this win, Maharashtra Kesari has returned to Pune after full 33 years. Coincidentally, the last time this title came to the city through a win by Hiraman Bankar.

Kushti wrestlers - wrestling training in akhara

Vijay Bankar clinches 'Maharashtra Kesari' title in wrestling

Friday, December 18, 2009
Pune: Vijay Bankar of Pune today became 53rd "Mhaharashtra Kesri", defeating Sayed Chaus from Beed, in the prestigious state wrestling championship here.
Bankar humbled Sayed at the end of the third round of the bout which attracted a large number of 'Kusti' enthusiasts at Pimpri-Chinchwad near here.
Vijay is the son of Hiraman Bankar, who had won the prestigious title in 1976.

Dec 10, 2009

Indian Wrestling - kushti dangal clips

UP wrestlers battling to maintain winning streak.

THE Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts in the suburbs of the Capital might be famous for their fast- changing urban character, but there is another reason that makes these UP districts distinct.

The lives of the people in the rural pockets of these districts have changed after receiving compensations in lieu of their lands over the past few years, but one thing that has not changed for decades is their love for wrestling.

Villages in Gautam Budh Nagar like Sarfabad, Garhi Chowkhandi and Behlolpur and those in Ghaziabad like Shahpur Bamheta, Sadarpur and Sihani have not only produced wrestlers at district levels but have also given state, national and even international- level grapplers.

" Wrestling is in our blood. Our forefathers did it, then our fathers, and now we are doing it and then our children will also go the same way. We cannot think of anything else and cannot imagine life without wrestling," 21- year- old Krishan Yadav, a wrestler from Shahpur Bamheta who now practices at the Railways akhara in Delhi, said.

Dec 7, 2009

Challenge Cup Dangal (wrestling tournament)

Top wrestlers from India and Pakistan would be sweating it out with each other in the Challenge Cup Dangal (wrestling tournament) scheduled to be held in Lahore next month.

Speaking to media persons during a press conference, Pervaiz Shahid, chairman of CMC Bank Alfalah, the main sponsor of the event, said the tournament would be inaugurated on 13th December in Lahore and the final will be held in Karachi on 20th December.

The winner of the tournament would take home an impressive one million rupees as prize money

Dec 6, 2009

Wrestlers of Guljar Wrestling Akhara

Ring of life
The talented youngsters at the Guljar Wrestling Akhara train hard to realise their dreams
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, December 5
For Lovepreet, day begins early. Winters or summers, this 12-year-old promising wrestler leaves his bed for the training session as early as 4 am at the Gulzar Wrestling Akhara here. His aim is to secure a medal in Olympic Games and to accomplish his dream he has to stay away from his family, which is in Karnal.

However, Love is not the only one following this stiff schedule as there are many other budding wrestlers who are practicing hard, supporting a hope of winning a medal in their eyes.
Guljar Wrestling Akhara, a government-adopted one was started in 2005, at Zirakpur in Punjab, after the name of late Gulzar Singh Sandhu, a noted wrestler.
Around 40 young wrestlers from different states like Himachal, Haryana and Punjab get training under the vigil eyes of SAI coach RS Kundu.
Kundu, who did his advance training from Budapest (Hungary), said, “Earlier the wrestling centre was set up at Shivalik Public School in phase VI, by the SAI but after some time it could not be continued. Due to this many talented wrestlers came on road side.”
He added “Then this wrestling centre was started in Dara Studio at Mohali by late Gulzar Singh Sandhu, its president. The young wrestlers brought many laurels for the Akhara under his training.”

Article on Wrestling in Pakistan

Pit dug deep
State neglect and rapid commercialisation have led to demise of desi kushti and akhara culture
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

A frequent visitor to the Walled City or the areas surrounding it is bound to come across the fast diminishing open spaces amid dense neighbourhoods called 'akharas' in native language. The akharas (wrestling rings) have been the hallmark of the city for ages where people would come early in the morning, and also during the later parts of the day to exercise and grapple with each other.
For those who have never been to an akhara, it can be described as a circular or rectangular earthern wrestling pit, softened by ploughing or digging. For the traditional wrestlers, skilled in the art of "desi kushti" (conventional wrestling), this place is as sacred as one can think of. With their bodies glistening with the oil rubbed all over, they would bend down, touch the ground with their hands and kiss the ground respectfully and hop around to the rhythm of the deafening beats of the dhol.
Many of us would have heard from our elders tales of world-renowned "pehalwans" (wrestlers), hailing from the Indo-Pak sub-continent. There were times when pehalwans were looked at with awe and the attainment of physical beauty and strength was dream of every young person.
Unfortunately, things have changed very fast over the years. Desi kushti, which happened to be the most popular sport in the region, is dying gradually due to multiple reasons. As admirers of the sport put it, the biggest reasons are the government neglect, use of akhara lands for commercial purposes, encroachments and popularity of modern sports like hockey and cricket.
Muhammad Iqbal, 65, a resident of Mohni Road, tells TNS that he would spend four to five hours in akhara during his youth and even middle-age. He says it was his father who took him to a nearby akhara and requested Akram Pehalwan, a popular trainer of that time, to make him his disciple. "We took garlands, turban cloth and sweets along for pehalwan jee. This was the practice of the time and every new disciple was supposed to do this as a token of respect," he says.
Iqbal says parents in those days wanted their children to avoid bad company and spend spare time in healthy activities. Life was not as fast as today and distractions such as cable television and VCR were unheard of, he adds. He says desi kushti was an essential part of every festival where professional and amateur wrestlers showed their skills and won prizes and people's praise. "Unfortunately, this sport is fast disappearing from the scene though some people are struggling hard to keep it alive," Iqbal adds.
Sardar Pehalwan of Rang Mahal holds the successive governments responsible for the decay of desi kushti. Instead of patronising this sport, the rulers damaged it beyond repair, he adds. Sardar, who is son of famous Pamma Pehalwan Choorigar, tells TNS that the worst blow came from Mian Nawaz Sharif's government in early 1990s.
He says at that time the tomb of famous poet Hafeez Jalandhari, who wrote Pakistan's national anthem, was shifted from Model Town to Minto Park (now Iqbal Park). "This move came at the cost of the wrestling stadium at the park. The government promised that many wresting stadiums and pits would be built around the city to compensate this loss but these promises never materialised," he adds.