(Last Updated on : 17/09/2013)
Wrestling in India is said to be amongst the most ancient sports whose past is enriched with glory. The game of wrestling commenced its journey in India several centuries ago, during the middles ages. Even in the Olympic Games, wrestling is considered to be one of the most significant games. In 708 BC, this game was included in the Olympics.
History of Wrestling
In India, wrestling is also known as `Malla
-Yudhha`. Some forms of Mallayuddha were practiced in India even before the invasion of the Aryans. The famous Indian epic
has numerous references of the game of wrestling in the country. Bhima
, an important character in Mahabharata is believed to be a great wrestler. Karna
were the other great wrestlers mentioned in this epic. Ramayana
has also asserted about the activity of wrestling and Hanuman
has been described as a talented wrestler here. Malla Purana
, which dates back to the thirteenth century mentions about a group of Gujarati Brahmin
wrestlers who were known as `Jyesthimallas`. Wrestling in India, during the ancient times, used to get regular patronage from the emperors and kings of the nation. The kings of pre-independent India nurtured wrestling to a large extent. During the British rule, wrestling in India got another big push, as the British rulers included the game into the military practise. The British military armies, including Indian soldiers got attracted to wrestling, very much. Wrestling in India continued to increase its popularity till the modern days and India was considered among the top 10 countries in wrestling till the 1960s. India also hosted the World Wrestling Championship in New Delhi
Types of Wrestling in India
Wrestling in India can be divided into two main categories like `Malla
Krida` and `Malla-Yuddha`. While Malla Krida is the sports form of the game, Malla-Yuddha is the battle version of wrestling. There are also some other forms of wrestling in India, out of which, the free-style varieties are more common than the other forms, since Vedic times. The free-style varieties of wrestling in India are known as `Pushti
` or `Kushti`. Wrestling in India can also be divided into four types like `Bhimaseni`, `Hanumanthi`, `Jambuvanthi` and `Jarasandhi`, based on the technique and methodology.
The technical superiority of the wrestler matters the most in the Hanumanthi type of wrestling. The wrestler can win a victory over the opponent of even greater strength, by his technical superiority.
In Jambuvanti wrestling, the wrestlers apply locks and holds to get control over the opponent.
form of wrestling is mainly focused on the breaking of the limbs and joints of the opponent and hence, it is considered as the most dangerous form of wrestling in India.
The other type, Bhimaseni is for those wrestlers, who have huge build and strength. This form of wrestling gives pressure on acquiring the strength and then using it.
Malakhra is a unique type of wrestling, which has been derived from South Asia. This game is played in many portions of India and also in Pakistan. The participants tie a cloth around the waist of the opponent and each of them makes an attempt to throw him down, to the ground.
Vajra-Mushti, also referred to as `diamond
-fist` or `thunder-fist` is a technique of martial arts
of ancient India which is performed by wrestlers known by the name Jyesthimalla. The weapon employed in this game is called `Indra-mukti` which implies the fist of Lord Indra
Also known as `Kusti`, Pehlwani is a procedure of wrestling which originated from South Asia. It is said to be a fusion of the local form of wrestling, known as `malla-yuddha` and `varzesh-e bastani`, a Persian form of wrestling.
Based on the methods of selecting the winner, wrestling in India can also be divided into another two categories like the `Orthia` and the `Kato
Pale`. In Orthia type, the wrestler has to throw the opponent on the ground for three times consecutively to win the match. The process continues until one wrestler comes out with flying colours. The Kato Pale type of wrestling demands the wrestler to accept defeat by raising his right hand with the index finger pointed. However, the rules of wrestling in India vary according to the various regions of the country.
Wrestlers of India
Wrestling in India has witnessed the rising of several eminent wrestlers, so far. The legendary Indian wrestler, Karim Bux became the first wrestler to defeat Tom Canon of England in 1892. Another eminent Indian wrestler, Gobar Guha
became the World Champion in Wrestling in San Francisco in 1922, by defeating the hook wrestler Ad Santel. The renowned Indian freestyle wrestler, Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadav won bronze medal in the 1952 Olympic Games. Another eminent Indian wrestler was Salwinder Singh Shinda, who won the Chandigarh Kesari Award, four times. Some of the other legendary wrestlers in India include Kikkar Singh, Gulam, Rajeev Tomar, and Arjuna Awardees in wrestling
like Anuj Chaudhury and Malkit Singh
Apart from them, in the recent years, wrestling in India is witnessing the rise of some wrestlers, who have a high potential to revive the dominance of India in the international wrestling arena. The famous Indian wrestler, Sushil Kumar has won Bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Apart from the conventional way of wrestling, there is also another type of wrestling in India which has earned significant popularity, nowadays. This is called as sports entertainment and the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and TNA are two of the most popular events in this form of wrestling. Some Indian wrestlers have become successful in this form of wrestling. The wrestlers include, Sonjay Dutt (TNA), Dalip Singh
(the Great Khali of WWE), Dara Singh
, Tiger Jeet Singh and many more.
Wrestling in India is being managed by several associations, at the state and national level. The national body for wrestling in India, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) came into existence in 1967 and it has been promoting the game in India, since then. Apart from that, there is also several state level wrestling associations which are working in collaboration with the WFI for the management of wrestling in India. The associations present many awards and wrestling titles to the Indian wrestlers. Some of the most prestigious wrestling titles include the `Rustam-i-Hind` that means Wrestling Champion of India, the `Rustam-e-Punjab`, the `Rustam-i-Zamana`, and the `Bharat-Kesri` that is given to the Best Heavyweight Wrestler of India.
Equipments Used in Wrestling
A mat having a diameter of 9 metres and surrounded by a border of the same thickness between 1.20 and 1.50 m wide is required in all contests. A red band, 1 m wide and forming an integral part of the wrestling surface, is drawn on the inside of the circle-9 m in diameter-and running along its entire circumference. A mat 10 m in diameter, including the 1 m wide passivity zone, may be used, as long as the protection surface is 1.20 m wide throughout. A circle must be traced in the middle of the mat with a diameter of 1m and a surrounding band of 10 cm width.
The contestants must present themselves at the edge of the mat in a one piece costume with a colour assigned to them (red or blue). Under this dress they must wear a protective genital supporter, and shorts or similar undergarments. Contestants are not permitted to wear protective head gear. This must be of a type which will not cause any injury to the opponent. Light knee pads and suitable sports shoes may be worn. These shoes must be worn on the mat only.
Wrestling was utilized in the ancient periods as a means to stay naturally healthy. It was also used as a great way of military exercise without any weapons. This game is also termed as `dangal` and forms a crucial part of wrestling tournament.