The advent of VIVO Pro Kabaddi has changed the horizon of the sport in the country. From a village-sport to a super-successful corporate event, the sport has seen it all in the last few decades and so has Ajay. From the heights of winning the 2016 World Cup to finishing third in 2018 Asian Games where India started as favourites, it has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride for the 33-year-old raider.
From a small village of Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh to being considered as one of the best raiders of all time, it has been quite a journey for the mercurial raider of Tamil Thalaivas.
Having belonged to a family of kabaddi players, becoming one himself wasn't much of a struggle for Thakur.
His father, Chhotu Ram was a former Kabaddi player as well as a coach, because of which the guidance was always there. What set him apart from the rest was his hunger for the game. At a tender age of ten, he ran away from his home to play kabaddi. It is noteworthy to mention that at that time, he was suffering from Typhoid and had lost 11 kilograms. He has also completed his graduation and has served the Navy.
Thakur made his debut in the national level at the age of just 19 in 2007 and since then, there was no looking back. Such was his determination that he gained 12 kilograms in just 15 days after his teammates held him as a subject of much ridicule because of his frail physique. He has ever since been the most trusted raider of the national team. He has won gold at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, Kabaddi World Cup in 2016, Asian Kabaddi Championship in 2017 and Dubai Kabaddi Masters in 2018.
In the World Cup, 2016, he was the captain and the man of the tournament for India. His amazing feat of 12 raid points in the final to beat Iran did justice to his form.
Thakur's journey in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi has been stained with irregularities and injuries. After his amazing debut season with Bengaluru Bulls with a score of 122 points, he managed only 79 points in the second season that resulted in his departure from the franchise. His third and fourth season with Puneri Paltan did little to bring his smile back as he managed only 115 points in the two years. But he was too brawny to lose by a brief lack of form. His transition to Tamil Thalaivas brought back the beast to his best. He rewarded his fans with a staggering 213 raid points in the 5th season, followed by 203 points in the 6th season. Undoubtedly, the flying Thakur was back in the business.
His biggest strengths have always been his towering 6'1" height, his presence of mind and athleticism on the mat. Just when you thought that you have got him covered, he doesn't mind jumping on your shoulder and before you knew it, he has flown away to safety and you, on the other hand, has been bamboozled, left only to clap in respect, making him the true Thalaiva, the leader.