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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Rugby? Wrestling? No, it's kabaddi

Kaushik Chatterji, Hindustan Times  Hoshiarpur, December 03, 2012
First Published: 23:38 IST(3/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:40 IST(3/12/2012)

Seeing brawny men on mother earth, attired in nothing but shorts, taking reverse cowboy and other leaves out of Vatsyayana's magnum opus, one is forced to wonder: is bigger necessarily better?

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Ask the experts, and they will, as one would expect, respond in the negative. In fact, Allan Bo Jakobsen, president of the Kabaddi Federation of Denmark, feels that too much bulk makes the sport boring to watch. "You need players who are strong and agile but not necessarily big," says Jakobsen. "For the sport to gain popularity, it is important to make it good to look at, and too many muscular players, I feel, makes it boring."

But whether you ask Jakobsen or Pargat Singh, who made a guest appearance at the 3rd World Cup of circle-style kabaddi here on Monday, they'll all tell you the same thing - brute force is one of the crucial components of the sport. "It's a mix of strength, skill and agility," says the former India hockey captain.

Circle-style kabaddi is a sport that, to the uninitiated, resembles a cross between rugby and freestyle wrestling. Little wonder, then, that many of those associated with the sport - whether as a player or as a coach - have a background in one of the two. Take, for instance, Rami, the 18-year-old half-Punjabi, half-Kiwi who plays rugby union down in Hawke's Bay. Or Ricardo. "I've been a rugby union player all my life," says the Argentine, who proudly claims to be the only kabaddi coach in his country.

But particularly interesting is the case of Gurdit Badesha. Born and brought up in Birmingham, the 24-year-old has represented Great Britain on wrestling mats across Europe and across the Atlantic in Canada. But his dream of making it to the Olympics is yet to be fulfilled. "I was trying for London, but tore a muscle," recalls Badesha wistfully.

Ah well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And kabaddi likes you stronger.

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