India has realised that with the right marketing and attractive packaging even a traditional drink such as jal jeera (cumin-flavoured water) could be profit making. The organisers of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) are hoping they can pull off a similar trick with the launch of the dressed-up version of the age-old sport.
Bajrang and Geeta Phogat thus were dressed as Roman warriors although Sushil Kumar looked the smartest of them all, walking the ramp in a simple polo and chinos.
Since the inception of the Indian Premier League, the format of a franchise-based tournament has been adopted by many, and in almost all cases the teams have struggled to make money.
The organisers of PWL, however, say they have solved the problem. "I cannot comment on the other leagues, but what I can say is we have a sound financial plan in place. Our objective is not to hold the league for a year, but to ensure its longevity and sustainability," said Kartikey Sharma of ProSportify, commercial partners for the league to be run by the Wrestling Federation of the India.
The league will have six city-based franchisees, to be announced after revealing the bids placed by aspiring owners. Each franchisee will have a limited purse of around Rs 3 crore, said Sharma. The amount involves the finances accounted for player auction, to be held on September 15, as well as other logistical and marketing expenses.
"There is no point spending the kind of money other leagues are; that will go against our stated principle of sustainability. Having said that, with around Rs 2-2.5 crore set apart for the auction, the wrestlers are placed to earn far more than they have before," he added.
A total of around Rs 20 crore will be spent on auctions and prize money.
The six cities will be selected from Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Hisar, Delhi, Gurgaon, Lucknow, Ranchi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Hyderabad and Bangalore, based on the bids placed by the investors.
Each team will have 11 wrestlers, making a total of 66 for the PWL. It is learnt that around 30 of them will be from outside India. A match will have nine bouts, five in the men’s category and four in women’s. Each bout will be of three rounds.