Wrestling has been one of the oldest and prestigious sports in the history of the Olympic Games. It has always been seen as a platform where the strongest men and women around the world involve inside a circular ring to outwit each other, using their brute power and strength.
Wrestling in India has a glorious past as the sport can be traced back to the Mahabharata where the legendary Bhisma was considered to be one of the best wrestlers of the time. Coming to the modern age also, wrestling has been quite an auspicious sport for the Indians in various sports competitions on the global platform.
Our wrestlers have been winning a string of medals in competitions like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Wrestling Championships. Now as far as the coveted Olympics is concerned, Indian wrestlers have produced four Olympic medals, the highest for any individual sport in India jointly held with shooting.
The first Olympic medal in wrestling for India was won by Khashaba Dadasaheb Jhadav in the Helsinki Olympics back in 1952. He was the lone Indian in that Olympics to finish with a bronze in the Men's freestyle bantamweight category.
Since then wrestling in India has travelled a long way and starting from December 10, India will be witnessing its first Pro Wrestling League, a professional competitive league between the top wrestlers across the world. The league is based on a six city-based franchise, just like other sporting leagues in India.
Here we take a look at the top-5 Indian wrestlers who would be in action in the Pro Wrestling League:
1) Sushil Kumar (Team-UP Warriors)
What Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket, Sushil Kumar is to wrestling in India. The poster boy of wrestling in India is nothing short of a legend as he holds the record jointly with Norman Pritchard of holding multiple Olympic medals (2). He won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and a silver medal in the London Olympics in 2012, both in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling category. He has also won gold at World Wrestling Championships and Commonwealth Games. He is strong, dedicated and extremely passionate about the sport that when the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was contemplating to drop wrestling from the Olympics, he was one of the strongest voices of protest and made the IOC to take back the proposal.
2) Yogeshwar Dutt (Team-Haryana Hammers)
He is the third wrestler from the country to win an Olympic medal, a feat he achieved when he won the bronze in the 2012 London Olympics in the 60-kg freestyle category. A born champion, he is one of the front-runners to win a medal in the upcoming Rio Olympics next year.
3) Amit Kumar (Team-Haryana Hammers)
The diminutive wrestler is the youngest of the Indian matmen. Amit's performance in the wrestling arena showed that he has a great future and is one of the top contenders to win a medal in the Rio Olympics next year. Amit Kumar started out as a rookie during the 2012 London Olympics but blasted his way into the top league, as he won the gold medal in the 57 kg category in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games two years later.
4) Geeta Phogat (Team-Punjab Royals)
She is the first Indian women wrestler to win a gold medal for the country, a feat she achieved during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the 55kg category. She is also the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games. That is more than enough to signify what kind of a tough nut the 27-year-old is. She is extremely hardworking as well as talented and serves as a source of inspiration and hope for all the other aspiring women wrestlers in the country.
5) Babita Kumari (Team-UP Warriors)
Babita is the younger sister of Geeta Phogat and the duo serves as a firebrand for women in wrestling. Babita is a skilled wrestler and much like her elder sister, works hard in the ring and gives her very best. She secured the Silver medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and took the next step to win the gold in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games by defeating the then reigning champion Brittanne Laverdure of Canada in the 55-kg freestyle category.
By Dipayan Saha