Photo by Sanjay Chavhan
Finally, the bald-headed grappler took home a cash prize of Rs one lakh as ‘Mahapaur Kesari’. The competition carried total prize booty of Rs five lakh. Rohit was all praise for the crowd that cheered for him all through the show. “I was lucky that I could retain my position as ‘Hind Kesari’. Hats off to Mulund crowd that gave me a rousing reception and made me feel at home away from home. It felt like my home ground,” said Rohit.
Local wrestling fanatics witnessed a high profile sporting extravaganza close to their door steps. Top grapplers like Vijay Pal, Sangram Patil, Narendra Kumar-Haryana, Rohit Patel, Narendre Kumar-Delhi from across the country were in the ring to fight it out for the big prize. Mulund suburb was chosen to host the prestigious Mumbai Mayor’s Cup Wrestling Competition for first time.
With the exponents of the Indian traditional style ‘Akhada’ wrestling in the fray, the Mumbai Mayor’s Cup was conducted at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Maidan in Mulund west. The show promised to be a veritable feast for the fan following of the game hailing from rural pockets of the country which have made the metropolis their home.
“For the first time the Mayor’s Cup crossed its old bastion to reach Mulund suburb. Until recently it was been confined to Kurla and with our hard effort we got the show moved to this part of the town,” said Hanumant Mali.
It was after a prolonged gap of almost a decade that this country-game got a rousing reception with prize money totalling about Rs five lakh, the highest ever in any Mayor’s Cup wrestling competition held in the past.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Mumbai Shahar-Upnagar Zilla Talim Sangh came together with a novel way of rewarding all the participants with a sum of Rs 8, 000 for the winner of the fourth round whereas a first round winner is entitled to pocket at least a consolation of Rs 1, 000 for his sweat and toil. Besides, Rs 4, 000 and Rs 2, 000 will be given to round three and round two winners as well.
Narendra Kumar of Delhi bagged the Rs 50, 000 as runners-up. Besides, Narendra Kumar of Harayana had to be content with third prize of Rs 25, 000. But the Marathi ‘Mulga’ Sangram Patil disappointed the local crowd with fourth place finish as many thronged the venue to cheer for him.
“Sorry, I could not perform,” said Sangram from Kolhapur.The show was also to provide an opportunity to local talent by holding a separate contest titled ‘Mumbai Mahapaur Kumar Kesari Championship’ for junior players. The Kumar Kesari title was won by Sanjay Patil of Kolhapur whereas Mumbai’s Rakesh Kumar pocketed the second prize. Bharat Harguli of Kolhapur and Raosaheb Ghorpade of Pune finished third and fourth.