Till about last year Indian wrestling revolved around two big names: Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt. Sushil, the two-time Olympic medallist was the king and alongside his then guru and now father-in-law Satpal, practically ran the sport.
Yogeshwar was the other power centre. Whether to decide on training centre overseas or appointment of coaches, Sushil and Yogeshwar were consulted on every little detail by the Wrestling Federation of India.
Those times have past. Going by the importance given to Sakshi Malik during the launch of the Pro-Wrestling League’s second season earlier this week, it was the Rio medallist who hogged the spotlight.
Sushil, meanwhile, had a public fallout with the WFI higher-ups after he pulled out of the inaugural season and was snubbed over his request for trial in the 74-kg category.
Sakshi was seated on the stage during the press interaction, while Yogeshwar was content to take a back seat. It was a far cry from last year, when both the stalwarts were in the forefront of the league’s publicity blitz.
Sakshi Malik was also the showstopper of the fashion show that was held to promote the event. Decked up in a Rohit Bal creation, Sakshi was the cynosure of eyes.
All this attention and invited for special programmes has gotten to her. “I don’t get time to train and now I can’t have a normal life that I used to have (before the Rio medal),” she told HT.
When asked whether she has grown out of the shadow of Sushil and Yogeshwar, Sakshi Malik added: “I can’t say that. Both of them is the reason why wrestling has become so popular.
“When I started, I used to look up to Sushil pehelwanji, Yogeshwar pehelwanji. Both of them paved the way for rest of us, gave the confidence that Indians can do well.
Later on Geeta didi (Phogat) qualified for the Olympics and showed that even girls have the capability. They are icons of the sport.”