• Introduction :

“Kushti” which is sometimes also referred as Pehalwani is one of the traditional sports, and the oldest form of wrestling. For some people it is way more than that of a sports, it is a sort of way of life for them.

The sport started getting recognition around late 1800s to 1900s through The Great Gama who was one of the best wrestlers of the time, renowned as undefeated in the early 20th century.

Initially Kushti was played as a way to stay fit by people back then, but now it has evolved into one of the best sports in the world.

The school of wrestling, which is ‘Akhada’ is basically a place where kushti can take place which is either in a shape of a square or a circle. Unlike modern wresting games where mat is used, akhada is rather on dirt floors.

Before any training or a match the floor is first sprinkled with oil or buttermilk with the motive to give that red hue to the dirt. To make the soil soft enough to prevent wrestlers from any sort of injury the floor is added with water often.

  • History :

Before the rise of kushti, ‘Malla-Yuddha’ was practiced in ancient India around 5 th millennium BC. After that when India was conquered by Asian Mughals, new methods of training were introduced and combined with malla yuddha which gave birth to the new game kushti.

When Ramadasa travelled to India, he encourages Hindus towards physical activities in order to maintain fitness among them. From Marathas to the colonial period, kushti competitions were sustained by different local princes.

In 1909, Jabbar-er-Boli was introduced by Abdul Jabbar Saudagar, a Bengali merchant. As a way to inspire youth to get united in order to get through the fight against British, however kushti was sustained throughout the independence.

After separation of Pakistan from India, the Great Gama and Gobar Goho emerged as the famous Indian wrestlers. From IV Asian Games in 1962 to the Commonwealth Games, the glory of kushti was enhanced at each level.
In New Delhi, 1967, India hosted the World Wrestling Championships.

  • How it is played?

The match starts with the wrestlers who celebrate their tradition of throwing some amount of dirt from the floor to one’s body, basically as a blessing.

There is no penalty granted if a wrestler is outside the circular area with some marked boundaries or lines as exemptions.

The duration of a match is almost 25-30 minutes, but if the wrestlers are ready, the match can also get stretched to about more 10-15 minutes. The wrestler who is finally able to pin the opponent’s shoulders along with hips to the ground is announced as a winner.

  • 5 most recognized personalities in wrestling/ kushti of India:

For 58kg category under Rio Olympics, Sakshi Malik was able to bring bronze in wrestling in India in 2016. Along with her, India has others amazingly deserving wrestlers, some of which are:

1. Sushil Kumar Solanki :

Son of Mr. Diwan Singh and Mrs. Kamla Devi, Sushil made India and his parents proud by winning a silver medal at London, 2012, world title under 66 kg weight division, and by bringing Bronze from Beijing Olympics in 2008 to India.

2. Sakshi Malik :

Being a daughter of a bus conductor, Mr. Sukhbir and a supervisor at local anganwadi, Mrs. Sudesh Malik, she is inspiring others with her achievement which is mesmerizing.

She is able to hold the title of the first India’s Female wrestler who received a medal from Olympics. She is considered as a
model for other girls willing to take up kushti as their career.

3. Jitendra Charan Goho :

Jitendra Charan Goho was the first Asian to win the World Light Heavyweight Championship. He is still recognized as Gobar Goho among kushti admirers. He is one of the reasons why kushti started to gain some popularity in India among the youth.

4. Udey Chand :

Awarded by the government with Arjun Award in wrestling, Udey Chand was born on 23rd of June, 1935.

5 .Dara Singh :

Dara Singh was not only just a wrestler, he was an actor, and politician also. He is well recognized amongst kushti lovers due to his achievements. Along with the winning title of World Wrestling Championship, 1968, he also holds the title of Commonwealth Championship in 1959.

  • Wrestling tournaments in India :

1. Pro wrestling league :

Established in 2015, pro wrestling League is one of the biggest wrestling tournaments, and mostly watched wrestling league among kushti players. Under the league winner is awarded with Rs. 1.9 crore. Strictly abiding by the rules of United World Wrestling, and the Wrestling Federation of India, the League also guarantees about 130 bouts, with no bouts per match.

2. National Wrestling Championships :

The double elimination tournament designed for wrestlers competing in 10 weight classes, offers about 1 crore to the winner
along with a gold crown, and a golden mace. The championship also has huge kushti admirers’ support, and is eagerly awaited by them to be held in India. The points earned by each winner throughout different matches based on the level of their performance are taken into account to determine the winner.

3. Bharat Kesari:

The championship is organized by Haryana Sports with Youth Affairs Department with Rs. 1 crore as a reward to the winner. This is a freestyle championship and is one of the most popularized tournaments admired by kushti players, especially in Haryana.

4. Under 15 National Wrestling Championships :

Only youth of the age of from 13 to 15 years are allowed to participate in this kushti championship. The competition consists of both Greco-Roman categories and Freestyle.

5. Professional Wrestling :

This competition is basically for more mature and heavy kushti players. For this, a great personality that is The Great Khali also established the Continental Wrestling Academy, specifically for the training of professional kushti players.