Indian wrestling fraternity slams judges for 'unfair' decision against Bajrang Punia

Bajrang Punia lost to Kazakh opponent Daulet Niyazbekov in the men’s freestyle 65kg semifinals due to debatable judging

Bajrang Punia reacts ( right) after the decision goes in favour of his Kazhak opponent in the semifinals.   -  Special Arrangement

Despite Indian wrestlers bagging two more Olympic quota places in the World wrestling championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Thursday, Bajrang Punia’s disappointing loss in men’s freestyle 65kg semifinals due to debatable judging was not a pleasant experience for his supporters.

A hapless Bajrang, who lost on the basis of tie-breaker rules after getting locked at 9-9 with his Kazakh opponent Daulet Niyazbekov, was seen pleading with the mat chairman to take appropriate action against the home wrestler for several fouls – including hitting on face, pulling costume and delaying tactics.

“The referee did his job honestly, but the mat chairman and the judge blundered. On one occasion, when the referee awarded a caution point, the judge looked busy arguing with Bajrang’s coach than noticing the action in the middle,” said international player-turned-coach-cum-referee Kripa Shankar Patel.

READ: Bajrang Punia, Ravi Kumar lose semis but qualify for Tokyo Olympics

“There is no place for boxing and kabaddi in wrestling. The United World Wrestling (UWW) should take note of this and initiate appropriate action.”

Raj Singh, a veteran coach and former secretary of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), said some decisions in the bout were not fair. “Had the bout been held elsewhere, the result would have been different,” said Raj Singh.

Nevertheless, Bajrang, who will fight for a bronze medal, still stands a chance to bolster his unique record of being the only Indian to win more than one Worlds medal.

Apart from Bajrang, Ravi Kumar Dahiya ensuring a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics was a positive development for India.

Another product of the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi, Ravi, a former Worlds under-23 silver medallist, had impressed one and all with a series of excellent performances in the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) in January.

Later, he got past top opponents like Olympian Sandeep Tomar, Utkarsh Kale and Naveen Sihag to win the 57kg selection trials and win the right to compete in the World championships.

Endowed with natural stamina, Ravi picked up the nuances of the sport from the famous stable that produced world class wrestlers like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.

“Sushil pehelwan says, ‘The more you watch others and learn, the more you improve.’ Also, he expects us to be disciplined,” Ravi had told during a previous interaction.

When Ravi beat Korean Kim Sunggwon and European champion Arsen Harutyunyan of Armenia, he underlined his background and class. His talent should help him earn a podium finish he richly deserves.