The three-day Bharat Kesari Dangal, a national level freestyle wrestling championship to honour revolutionary freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, kicked off in Gurgaon Monday with nearly 80 percent participants from three districts of Haryana.
The competition is being organised at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Sector 38 in Gurgaon and was inaugurated by Punjab and Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki in the presence of Haryana sports minister Anil Vij.
The winner’s purse of Rs.1 crore is perhaps the biggest given to any wrestler in such a competition in the country. The runner-up will get a cash prize of Rs.50 lakh and the bronze medallist will get Rs.25 lakh.
The wrestler bagging the fourth position will get Rs 10 lakh, the fifth position holder will get Rs.5 lakh, sixth position holder will get Rs.3 Lakh, seventh position holder will get Rs.2 lakh and the eighth position holder will get Rs.1 lakh. Wrestlers weighing 80 kilograms or more and above 17 years of age are participating.
As per the list of 78 participants provided by the organisers, nearly 80 percent of the wrestlers hail from three district of Haryana famous for their ‘akharas’ or wrestling schools, including Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonipat. These areas were the worst hit during last month’s violent Jat agitation demanding OBC quota in jobs and educational institutions.
Only 10 participants are from outside Haryana, including four from Delhi, three from Punjab, one each from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
A few wrestlers also come from different sports bodies including Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) and Association of Indian Universities.
There are only two participants from Gurgaon district, Ajay Kumar (96kg) from Lakhuwas village -- winner of last year’s Haryana state wrestling championship -- and Rahul Rathi (86kg) a resident of Tirpari -- runner-up at the 34th boys freestyle (Greco Roman) championship held at Ranchi last year.
Dushyant Kumar (125kg) from Kotputli-Jaipur, winner of the 34th boys freestyle (Greco Roman) championship held at Ranchi last year, is the only participant from Rajasthan. Aashutosh Rai (100kg), winner of a state level junior competition is the only wrestler from Madhya Pradesh participating in the event.
Gursahib Singh (125kg) from Amritsar, Gurpal Singh (96kg) from Jalandhar and Roublegit Singh Rangi (97kg) from Khanna area are the participants from Punjab.
Sumit Kumar (125kg), runner-up of last year’s Bharat Kesari and National championship from Delhi’s Dariyapur Kalan and Pawan Thakran, bronze medallist of the 2014 Commonwealth Games are also among the aspirants.
The event is being organised by the Haryana government with the help of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
Since Haryana is observing the Martyrdom Day of Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev on March 23, the event will conclude on that day, in honour of the great warriors and martyrs of the land.
It is for the first time that such a big sports event with huge award money is being organised to commemorate ‘Shaheedi Diwas’(Martyrdom Day).
All participants are divided into four groups and the preliminary competitions in all groups will be held on knock-out basis. The quarter-finals will be on league basis.
The semi-finals and final will be held on Wednesday.