Indore, a popular wrestling centre

Indore’s love of wrestling started with the Holkar kings’ fascination for the ancient sport. According to chroniclers of Indore’s history of wrestling, the sport flourished under the patronage of King Tukojirao II, who ruled from 1844 to 1886, and his successors Shivajirao Holkar and Tukojirao Holkar III.

Kripa Shankar Patel training kids at his akhara in Indore.   -  Special Arrangement

The 2017 National wrestling championship in Indore, which was one of the biggest wrestling centres decades ago, was the first such event to be hosted in the city and generated considerable interest among the followers of the sport.

Indore’s love of wrestling started with the Holkar kings’ fascination for the ancient sport. According to chroniclers of Indore’s history of wrestling, the sport flourished under the patronage of King Tukojirao II, who ruled from 1844 to 1886, and his successors Shivajirao Holkar and Tukojirao Holkar III.

“The kings’ interest was the primary reason for wrestling’s popularity in Indore. People used to supply the essentials to the wrestlers, who did not feel the need to step out of their akharas,” says Nakul Pataudi, who brings out a Hindi wrestling monthly Bharatiya Kushti started by his father late Ratan Pataudi in 1962, from Indore.

Cover page of the editions of ‘Bharatiya Kushti’ magazine which comes out from Indore.   -  Special Arrangement

 

A special book published by the father-son duo to mark the golden jubilee year of the magazine provides information about the prominent wrestlers of Indore, the visit of well-known grapplers to the city and the account of some famous bouts that became folklore of sorts.

“Indore was second home to Master Chandgi Ram. When he came here after beating the famous Mehardin in 1972, he was taken out in a huge procession. It triggered a riot between the Hindus and Muslims following which the district administration banned dangals between wrestlers of the two communities. The ban is still in force,” says Pataudi.

Respecting a champion, but not the championship

Arjuna Award winning wrestler Kripa Shankar Patel, who runs an akhara in Indore, says that even though the city has not produced too many top wrestlers of late, the craze for the sport is still there. “Today, around 50 to 60 akharas run in and around Indore. Wrestling bouts get good response from people and generous coverage in the media,” says Patel.

Patel hopes that the conduct of the National championship will help Indore produce some wrestlers of repute in the future.