With the ongoing dispute between the Wrestling Federation of India and the Indian Style Wrestling Association body, there have been major highlights on the importance of the sport of wrestling not just for the modern-day scenario of Olympics but also to recognise the history that is associated with it in a country like India. It thus becomes important to categorically highlight the importance of Indian wrestling in light of its modern-day presence.
The wrestling style that is often associated with the states of Haryana and Punjab dates back several centuries ago with the advent of the 15th century. The Indian style of wrestling combines the traditional malla yudh form of wrestling (approximately 5000 years old) and the Persian style of varzesh-e-bastani that was introduced during the Mughal empire. Over the years the sport has been enhanced and developed into a more competitive domain with regular competitions being held in the form of 'dangals' or 'kushtis' for local competitors to display their strength and vigour.
The rules of the fight entail rounds worth 25-30 mins with the objective being to pin the opponents' shoulders onto the ground or to sustain a knockout of the opponent. The participants are referred to as 'Pehelwans' and they compete and train on soft dirt grounds designed specially to enhance their movement and training techniques. A few famous Indians in this sport were The Great Gama and Kodi Naidu and several modern world champions and Olympians have been trained in this sport during their early years.
The recent news that has brought to light the Indian wrestling scenario is the conflict between the Indian Wrestling Federation and the Indian Style Wrestling Association. The supposed violation of the sports code of conduct is that there cannot be two federations to manage the same sport in India. Moreover, regarding the very event of Indian style wrestling, the WFI in its declaration mentioned that it has hosted the mud wrestling national events for the past two years as hosting national events is a compulsion in order for a body to be recognized as a National Sporting Federation (NSF).
It remains to be seen how the government handles this matter in light of the need for players(both Olympians and Para sportsperson) to gain an effective governing body for sports. Indeed, one sport cannot have two governing federations, but what and how can this distinction be made by Kiren Rijiju and the Sports Ministry?