Indian wrestling is still down on the mat - Hindustan Times
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Indian wrestling is still down on the mat

ByHT Editorial
Feb 19, 2024 08:16 AM IST

To truly change things, the Wrestling Federation of India itself will need to be reformed and that is a process that will take time.

The United World Wrestling (UWW), which is the sport’s international governing body, lifted the suspension of the Wrestling Federation of India last week. The UWW, on August 23, 2023, banned the Indian wrestling body for failing to hold elections within the required period and for operating without a president for six months. The UWW’s decision came with some conditions though. It urged a guarantee for non-discrimination against the protesting wrestlers (Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and others) and also said the WFI would have to re-convene the elections of its Athletes’ Commission no later than July 1, 2024. The immediate impact of the decision is that the Indian wrestlers will now be able to compete under the national flag at the UWW events.

The UWW, on August 23, 2023, banned the Indian wrestling body for failing to hold elections within the required period and for operating without a president for six months.. (HT File Photo) PREMIUM
The UWW, on August 23, 2023, banned the Indian wrestling body for failing to hold elections within the required period and for operating without a president for six months.. (HT File Photo)

But the protesting wrestlers aren’t happy with the decision because it means the faction controlled by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, which won the elections in December 2023, will be running the show. The wrestlers have dashed off a letter of protest to the UWW and the sports ministry. As things stand, there is little that the ministry can do. It had already suspended WFI and given that the elections were held in a fair manner, there is no reason for UWW to change its decision. In this scenario, the best option for the wrestlers would be to take the matter to court and ask for the elections themselves to be declared null and void.

This will still not solve the problem though as the body has many Singh loyalists across India. To truly change things, the body itself will need to be reformed and that is a process that will take time. Parachuting a candidate to the top post may not be the solution Indian wrestling, a sport that has fetched international acclaim for the country, needs.

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