The Karnataka government plans to start an academy for young wrestlers in chief minister Siddaramaiah’s home district, Mysuru in a move to save the neglected, traditional Nada Kusti, a type of wrestling practised in Karnataka.
“We recently sent a proposal to the state finance department, asking for funds to set up a wrestling academy in Mysuru and it was instantly cleared, thanks to Siddaramaiah’s love for this traditional sport,” said sports minister Pramod Madhwaraj. Last year, he allocated Rs 2.5 crore for restoring the Garadi Mane (wrestling houses or gymnasiums). “There are hundreds of children in the villages who are talented and bring honour and glory to the country. But they need support. I feel an academy will do wonders for the sport,” Madhwaraj said.
Wrestling in India is said to be amongst the most ancient sports whose past is enriched with glory. The game of wrestling commenced its journey in India several centuries ago, during the middles ages. Even in the Olympic Games, wrestling is considered to be one of the most significant games. In 708 BC, this game was included in the Olympics. Wrestling is of many types and the styles may differ from one region to another. Some other popular wrestling forms include Malakhra, Malla-yuddha, Maharashtra Kesari, Pehlwani, Vajra-mushti. The Old Mysuru region and parts of North Karnataka have a rich wrestling culture It forms an integral part of the Mysuru Dasara for decades.
But the sport is dying for lack of financial support and fading interest among the youth. Garadi Manes are seen as fertile breeding grounds for wrestlers, but these centres suffer from want of funds and equipment. The 10th All India National Invitational Wrestling Championship for both men and women was also held on October 5 and 6, 2016. The government also decided to increase the funds for promoting wrestling in rural areas from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh in the upcoming state budget. It’ll also increase the monthly pension for retired wrestlers from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000.
Balaram Patil, President, Belagavi Wrestling Association, said, “Earlier, very few youngsters took up wrestling. But Indian wrestlers winning medals in recent international events have been a big inspiration for youths as young as 19, and with Bollywood coming up with inspiring films, the number of enthusiasts is going up.” The performance of the Phogat sisters in Dangal and Anushka Sharma as Arfa in Sultan have kindled interest among girls too who now want to take it up for self-defence, said Manju, a wrestling coach in Mysuru.
Belagavi is hosting two pro-wrestling league contests called 'dangals’, These Indian-style mud wrestling events will showcase wrestlers with a competition for girls too. Recently, a three-day wrestling league was held at Angaghatti village in Hirekerur taluk, Haveri district. The villagers chipped in with money to organize these contests as part of an annual fair, and it attracted a record crowd.”Bollywood plays a big role in inspiring youngsters. Wrestling is all about mental and physical discipline. People now see it as a serious sport, and these films contribute a lot to change the mindset,” said Chidananda H, organizer.