Ten-year-old Mohammad Wasim was hobnobbing among his idols at the Subhash Maidan opposite the Red Fort in north Delhi on Sunday evening.
"Can you please sit down? My parents will be ready to go home soon and I've only seen ten matches till now. I'm not allowed near the arena a I'm young; whenever someone stands up, I cannot see what is happening," the irritated Class 4 student of a local madrasa said.
Wasim's inclination for the sport was palpable — both from the enraptured look that overcame him during successive wrestling bouts, as well as from the crumpled newspaper clipping of wrestling gold medallist Sushil Kumar that the ten-year-old was showing off to his companions.
"I want to like Sushil Kumar; but ammi (mother) says real tough men fight with their minds, so I should concentrate on my studies if I want to be successful. In our country wrestlers don't make as much money as Khali does in America," Wasim said sadly.
Wasim was among dozens of spectators, across age groups, gathered at the Itehadi Dangal Maidan to witness a marathon freestyle wrestling event on the occasion of Children's Day. The event was organised by the Yamuna Yuvak Kendra, an east Delhi-based NGO.
"More than 200 wrestlers and about a 100 khalifas (coaches) from almost all akharas in the city are competing here today. The wrestlers, aged between 10 and 25 years, are competing for cash prizes. We have been organising this event since 1970," said Pulkit Chaturvedi, one of the organisers.
The cash rewards for those competing on the chilly evening were in the range of R100 to R11,000.