Kushti is an ancient and traditional sport in India. Giant men with vast bodies step into the akhada (wrestling arena) to fight with other men. The game was made for men to prove their strength on Indian soil with bare feet. Girls used to hide behind the trees to see the bare bodies of these muscular men. The sport is also played in other countries with a different name, wrestling.
Wrestling aims to fulfill the same purpose. The one who has the maximum strength wins the game. There is only a difference of some tricks and rules in both the games. After excelling in this game of vigor in the Indian form, Indians have adapted the western form of game as well.
Some of our brawny men have achieved extraordinary success in wrestling which have made their faces celebrated worldwide. Catch up with this further.
Indian Wrestlers Who Achieved International Recognition
1. The Great Khali
Dalip Singh Rana, better known as The Great Khali is best known for his WWE times. In 2014, he was described as the eighth tallest professional wrestler in history. Under the ring name Giant Singh, he debuted as a professional wrestler in All Pro Wrestling (APW) in United States in 2000 alongside Daivari. Khali became the World Heavyweight Champion in 2007.
Before his wrestling career, he was an officer in Punjab Police.
2. Sushil Kumar
Sushil Kumar Solanki is the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals. He has achieved several medals on international platforms for wrestling. As a result of these achievements, he was also rewarded by various cash awards in honor by various state and central governments. The prominent wrestler has received honors such as Arjuna Award 2005, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Padma Shri in 2011.
3. Yogeshwar Dutt
You can approximate the achievements of a person in their specific field of performance when he/she is an awardee of the Padma Shree. Yogeshwar Dutt is a freestyle wrestler. He registered his first international achievement with 2003 Commonwealth Championship at London by winning gold. Since then, he has made his place on every international platform; Asian Games, Commonwealth Games or Summer Olympics. One of his most remarkable achievements includes the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. It ended India’s 28 years wait for gold in wrestling at the Asian Games.
Dutt has also received Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2012.
4. Narsingh Yadav
A wrestler who has been much involved in controversies this year. He won gold medal in men’s freestyle 74 kg category in 2010 Commonwealth Games. Narsingh Pancham Yadav has been debarred from 2016 Rio Olympics and banned for 4 years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of doping. It is believed that the allegations were put up by a rival group in order to prevent him from the participating in Olympics 2016.
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5. Lovepreet Sangha & Satender Dagar
Lovepreet Sangha is a 6 feet tall, 225 pound weighed, World Kabaddi League Champion. The former Kabaddi sportsman has now entered in the wrestling ring.https://twitter.com/TripleH/status/605770816572133376
Satender Dagar is 6’4” tall, 235 pound weighed, former wrestling champion. Satender has won the Hind Kesari title two times.https://twitter.com/TripleH/status/605768087841800192
The two wrestlers coveted with WWE last year. WWE Vice President Triple H announced them on Twitter. They began their training in the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.https://twitter.com/TripleH/status/605766290331049984
6. Karim Baksh
Karim Baksh was the first wrestler from Indian subcontinent to make place in world headlines. The 21 year old Karim Baksh defeated Tom Cannon of England in 1892. The defeat by the Indian school to the professional school of wrestling marked the first international contact of India. Considered as one of the cleverest pehelwans, Karim was adept as a leg wrestler, cutting away the legs of his competitors. Karim Baksh also received the title Rustom-e-Hind.
7. Udey Chand
A retired wrestler aged 81 and a wrestling coach, Udey Chand was the first individual world championship winner in independent India. An awardee of the first Arjuna Award in wrestling in 1961, he created history by winning bronze at 1961 World Wrestling Championships at Yokohama in 67 kg freestyle.
He started his career with the Indian Army. The undisputed national champion from 1958-1970, Udey Chand currently assists budding wrestlers in Hisar.
8. Dara Singh
A professional wrestler, actor and politician, Dara Singh was the first sportsperson to be nominated for Rajya Sabha of India. Dara Singh was trained by Harnam Singh. He has competed round the world with opponents like Bill Verna, John Da Silva, Rikidozan, Ski Hi Lee and many others. His act of flooring King Kong is in everyone’s memory. He announced his retirement in his last tournament in Delhi in June 1983.
Dara Singh has won titles for WWWA World Heavyweight Championship, Commonwealth Championship, World Wrestling Championship, Rustom-e-Hind and Rustom-e-Punjab.
His last honor for wrestling was the Hall Of Fame in 1996 by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
9. The Great Gama
Ghulam Muhammad, known on stage as The Great Gama was born in Amritsar, British India. Considered as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Gama shifted to newly created Pakistan. The wrestler was awarded with the Indian version of World Heavyweight Championship in 1910. The pre-independence Indian born wrestler remained undefeated through his career of more than 52 years.
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Tell us your favourite pehelwan amongst these.