The world famous wrestler and guru Chandgi Ram ji contributed so much to the sport of wrestling in India. So it’s fitting that he should be honored with a major freestyle wrestling tournament that draws famous wrestlers, gurus and other important guests.
The second annual Guru Chandgi Ram Gold Cup was held on 7th November. It’s a freestyle tournament, rather than traditional Indian wrestling, so it’s a great opportunity for wrestlers to hone their international skills. That’s especially important with the London Olympics coming up next year. NIOS coach Vikram Sonkar says events like this, if held regularly, will help Indian wrestlers bring home some medals next year.
The late guru’s son, Jagdish Kaliraman, a Bharat Kesari title holder and Olympic wrestler who is now an inspector with U.P. Police, is the man behind the tournament. He had plenty of support from family and friends, too.
The late guru’s daughter, Deepika Kaliraman, who is also the president of All India Women Wrestling Association, invited me to cover the event for this blog. She has been working hard to promote women’s wrestling in India and recently started a club for girls at Pochan Pur Village in Dwarika.
This year, the tournament was held at the K.D. Jadhav Wrestling Stadium at the Indira Gandhi Sports Stadium Complex here in New Delhi. The stadium is just about a year old and was built for the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Sports Minister Mr Ajay Makan is to thank for the venue. He made sure it was available for the competition, and the whole Indian wrestling brotherhood is grateful for his support for wrestling. Another great thing about the tournament is that TV channel D.D. Sports broadcast the entire 10 hour event throughout the country.
Wrestlers came from all over the country to compete -- mainly Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. The competition started 10 a.m. with junior wrestlers’ bouts and initial qualifying rounds. Wrestling was on three mats and there were two breaks in between for entertainment like songs and traditional dances. All around the venue there were posters of great gurus -- pillars of Indian wrestling -- like Guru Hanuman, Capt Chandroop, Guru Chandgi Ram, Guru Jasram, etc.
One of the highlights of the event was the women’s matches. Guru Chandgi Ram ji was the first to open his akhara to women so he is really the father of women’s wrestling in India. The tournament was a great opportunity for them to show their talent. And women’s wrestling will no doubt grow with the support and hard work of the late guru’s family.
Renowned Olympic wrestler Kripa Shankar Bishnoi, NIOS coach Vikram Sonkar of Guru Premnath Akhara, Naveen, Ashok Garg, and mat chairman Ashok ji of Air Force were the referees and mat officials. They all deserve to be congratulated for their outstanding efforts.
The chief guest was Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi and Deputy Mayor Anil Sharma. Ms. Rajni Abbi also inaugurated a wrestling bout.
World champion wrestler Sushil Kumar also made an appearance. He was given a warm welcome and presented with a flower bouquet by Jagdish Kaliraman. Sushil greeted all the gurus and dignitaries and went to talk to the wrestlers who were competing to encourage them and motivate them. Sushil is a hero to the wrestlers so his visit made a very big impact with them.
All the guests were honored with pagri as such is the tradition of the sport and the Kushti Jagat newspaper editor Ratan Patodi was honored for his contribution to Indian wrestling.
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