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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Dangal redux: Girl defeats brother in Varanasi wrestling fest

Akhada Goswami Tulsidas, which organises an annual wrestling competition at the at the popular Assi ghat in Varanasi, opened the door to female wrestlers for the time this year.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2017 20:39 IST
Sudhir Kumar
Sudhir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Varanasi
A total of 24 young women wrestlers (12 pairs) in the category of 48 kg and 75 kg are participating in the annual championship.
A total of 24 young women wrestlers (12 pairs) in the category of 48 kg and 75 kg are participating in the annual championship.(Rajesh Kumar / HT Photo)

Bollywood hit Dangal found a real-life replay when a teenager defeated her younger brother in a close contest on the opening day of a wrestling championship at the popular Assi ghat in Varanasi on Tuesday.

This was the first time women competitors are allowed in this annual contest organised by the Akhada Goswami Tulsidas in the memory of Amarnath Mishra, the late chief priest of Sankatmochan temple.

“Time has changed. Woman wrestlers have won medals and made India proud. We want to encourage women and so we have invited them,” said Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, the shrine’s current head priest.

A total of 24 young women are participating in two categories: 48kg and 75kg.

Dangal, the Bollywood biopic on the Phogat sisters who brought wrestling glory to India, played a conspicuous role when 16-year-old Khushi Yadav climbed onto the mat to face brother Karan, two years younger than her, in the 48kg category.

The siblings come from an illustrious wrestling family. Their father, Vinod Yadav, was a national-level player and guides young boys and girls these days. Grandfather Kallu Pahalwan wrestled in his youth and trains his grandchildren now.

Karan fought well but Khushi was better.

“My father had participated in national wrestling championships. I want to be an international wrestler. Winning gold for the country in the Olympics is my dream,” she said.

She thanked the temple priest for opening the doors of this traditional arena to young woman grapplers. The chief priest played “Laabhdayak Bapu”, or benefactor father, she said making a parody out of the Dangal hit song “Haanikarak Bapu”.

Priest Mishra congratulated Khushi and the day’s 75kg winner Freedom Yadav.

Khushi practises in the arena two hours in the morning and evening, often with her brother.

Bhavna Yadav, who played against Freedom, practises at Sigra sports stadium.

“Inviting woman wrestlers is a great idea. It will encourage youngsters aspiring to make a mark in international events,” she said.

Besides breaking a glass ceiling in an arena steeped in patriarchal rules and regulations, the women managed to do what Dangal did on the silver screen. Draw the crowd.

The winners will take home cash rewards. “The amount will be disclosed on the concluding day (Thursday),” Kallu Pahalwan said.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 19:30 IST