A Show of Strength: India’s Most Popular Wrestlers

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Bajrang Punished
Indian freestyle wrestler Bajrang Punia, who competes in the 65kg weight class, won a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He is the only Indian wrestler to win three medals at the world wrestling championships. At CWG 2022 Birmingham he won a Gold Medal in the Men’s 65kg Freestyle. He was awarded FICCI India Sports Award 2020, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2019, Padma Shri Award in 2019 and Arjuna Award in 2015.

The Great Khali
The Great Khali, real name Dalip Singh Rana, is not just an Indian professional wrestler but a wrestling promoter and actor. Prior to starting his wrestling journey in 2000, he was an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Punjab Police. One of seven siblings, Khali is known to suffer from acromegaly, which, among other symptoms, causes an increase in height or gigantism and a protruding chin. He was discovered by a policeman while serving as a security guard, who later inducted him into the Punjab Police in 1993. Once he moved to Jalandhar, he trained in various gymnasiums for become a wrestler and was later selected for wrestling training in the United States. states. He has also appeared in Hollywood and Bollywood films and has appeared on television and reality shows. He was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021.

Also Read: Developing Great Sportsmanship in India

Dara Singh
Indian wrestler, actor, director and politician Dara Singh Randhawa had an illustrious career and was immensely popular. He was the first sportsman to be nominated for the Rajya Sabha. He is also known for playing the role of Hanuman in Ramayan by Ramanand Sagar. Singh had defeated Tiger Joginder Singh in 1954 to lift the Rustam-e-Hind title and also received a silver cup from Maharaja Hari Singh. He also won the Commonwealth Championship in 1959 beating George Gordienko in Calcutta and in 1968 he won the World Championship. Singh was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2018, WWE inducted Singh into the WWE Hall of Fame Legacy Class of 2018.

KD Jadhav
Indian athlete Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was a wrestler who won a bronze medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He became the first athlete from independent India to win an individual medal at the Olympics after Norman Pritchard who won two silver medals in 1900 in athletics under colonial India. He was also the first Indian to win in wrestling, as before him medals were widely won in field hockey. However, Jadhav, who belonged to the village of Goleshwar in Maharashtra, never received a Padma award. He received the Arjuna Award in 2000 posthumously for his contribution to the struggle.

The Grand Gama
The Great Gama or Rustam-e-Hind whose real name was Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt was a wrestler in British India. The undefeated wrestling champion was born in 1878 in Amritsar district. In 1910 he received a version of the world heavyweight championship. Considered one of the greatest Indian wrestlers of all time, Gama is known to have fought and won over 5,000 matches. At the age of 10, he was first noticed by the Maharaja of Jodhpur when Gama entered a competition. Maharaja of Datia then took him to training.

Sakshi Malik
Freestyle wrestler Sakshi Malik became the first female wrestler to win an Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 58 kg weight category. She also won the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the bronze medal at the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships in 2015. Malik’s father was a bus driver while his mother was a health clinic supervisor . For her, the inspiration came from her grandfather who was also a wrestler. In 2017 she received the Padma Shri and in 2016 she received the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award. She is married to fellow wrestler Satyawart Kadian. This year at CWG 2022, Malik won a gold medal in the Women’s 62kg Freestyle.

Deepak Punished
Indian freestyle wrestler and junior officer in the Indian Army, Deepak Punia is an Indian freestyle wrestler. Haryana-born Punia won a silver medal at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships in the 86kg freestyle category. This year at the Commonwealth Games, Punia won gold in the men’s 86kg freestyle category.


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