Lo­cal ‘Sul­tans’ strug­gling to keep their sport alive

The Free Press Journal - - MUMBAI/STATE - SURESH GOLANI

Movies like ‘Dan­gal’ and ‘Sul­tan’ may have be­come block­busters in­di­cat­ing that there is in­ter­est in wrestling among the Bol­ly­wood view­ers, but ground re­al­ity is dif­fer­ent and a group of wrestlers are fight­ing against the odds to keep the tra­di­tional form of ‘kushti’ alive in the twin city.

This group of wrestlers, who had a small akhara (wrestling arena) at a space pro­vided by the Mira Bhayan­dar Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (MBMC) at its com­mu­nity hall in Bhayan­dar is not fight­ing op­po­nents, but paucity of funds and ab­sence of any lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port.

More than a decade af­ter charg­ing a name­sake an­nual fees, the MBMC in ac­cor­dance with a govern­ment no­ti­fi­ca­tion has de­cided to clas­sify all its 25 com­mu­nity halls in­clud­ing the akhara as a com­mer­cial en­tity which will re­sult into a man­i­fold in­crease in rentals for such in­sti­tu­tions which are not profit-driven but pro­mote this tra­di­tional sport.

With Rs.1.52 lakh as the base an­nual rent, the Akhara will be handed over to the high­est bid­der in an auc­tion process.

“It is the love for the sport that has en­abled us to over­come all short­com­ings, rekin­dling hopes of re­vival of the tra­di­tional sport, which oth­er­wise was on the verge of ex­tinc­tion. The move will spell a death knell for the sport here.” says trainer Vas­ant Patil.

“We are help­less as th­ese are govern­ment or­ders.” said a civic of­fi­cer.

The akhara which re­cently up­graded to mat sys­tem is not only a small academy im­part­ing free train­ing to young as­pir­ing wrestlers, but an as­sem­bly point for for­mer wrestlers, most hail­ing from down­trod­den sec­tions of so­ci­ety.

De­spite all odds, this akhara has pro­duced many renowned state-level wrestlers like Sneha Aag­wane, Ak­shay Mane and Vaib­hav Mane, while lit­tle mud war­riors, in­clud­ing Shubam Lad, Kapil Har­markar, Nayan Kam­ble, Ko­mal De­sai, have been reli­giously grap­pling in the hope of touch­ing new heights in their very own mal­lyudh (mud wres­tle).

An akhara in the twin city of Mi­raBhayan­dar that has pro­duced many renowned statelevel wrestlers like Sneha Aag­wane, Ak­shay Mane and Vaib­hav Mane is fight­ing to sus­tain the tra­di­tional form of ‘kushti’, but paucity of funds, steep hike in rents and ab­sence of any lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port is mak­ing it hard for them

The Akhara re­cently up­graded to us­ing syn­thetic mats

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