Son fulfills wrestling veteran’s Dangal dreams in Jharkhand
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Son fulfills wrestling veteran’s Dangal dreams in Jharkhand

Jamshedpur’s Munna Singh has been organising mud-wrestling contests for over half a decade now and gives away expensive awards to encourage the youths take up the sport.

other sports Updated: May 27, 2017 16:40 IST
Saurav Roy
Saurav Roy
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
wrestling,Dangal,Aamir Khan
Munna Singh has kept his father’s dreams alive and organises mud wrestling competition every year.(HT Photo)

Years before Aamir Khan’s Dangal took the box office by storm, a Jharkhand man’s passion for traditional Indian mud-wrestling and love for his wrestler father started bringing youngsters in the tribal state closer to the roots of freestyle wrestling through the old-school Akhaaras.

Meet Jamshedpur’s Munna Singh, who has been organising mud-wrestling contests for over half a decade now and giving away expensive awards to encourage the youths take up the sport.

This 39-year-old state-level wrestler has much in common with Dangal girls Geeta and Babita than visible. Like the wrestling sister duo, Munna too is on a mission to keep his father’s dreams alive and take them to new heights.

Read | How Dangal challenged gender stereotypes and became a blockbuster in China

His father Brij Mangal Singh, a national gold medallist in freestyle wrestling, ran an Akhaara for over 50 years in Jamshedpur. He was 85 in 2007, but still managed to flex his muscles in the ring and give Dhobipachaar lessons to the wrestlers in their twenties.

Mangal Singh is no more, but his son has taken his dream to an all new level. He has sought the support of professional wrestlers such as Commonwealth gold medallist Deepak Kumar and Rio Olympic referee Ashok Kumar to create a perfect blend of Desi Kushti and international wrestling for the local youths.

“I am only fulfilling my father’s dream. He was a great wrestler and always wanted the local youths to do well in wrestling. Mud-wrestling for aspiring wrestlers was his idea, I am only adding a bit of innovation to take it ahead,” said Munna.

The Brij Mangal Singh Burj Wrestling Tournament, a freestyle mud-wrestling contest, has grabbed eyeballs this week as well. Besides the langoti-clad buff wrestlers battling it out in mud, the Royal Enfield motorcycle and many more such prizes on offer for the winners have made the participants willing to walk the extra mile. Munna sponsored the Royal Enfield motorcycle for the winner of the contest, which saw 40 participants - 22 from Jharkhand and 18 from other states such as Haryana, Delhi and Punjab.

On Friday, the finale of the sixth edition of the tournament dedicated to Mangal Singh was held under the supervision of Rio Olympic wrestling referee Ashok Kumar and Asian Wrestling Championship bronze medallist Anil Kumar among others sharing similar stature in professional wrestling. Four contenders displayed their strength and moves in the final lap of the week-long contest.

“My father ran an Akhaara here for more than 50 years. Famous wrestler Dara Singh had also visited his Akhaara. I want to keep wrestling alive here at any cost. In fact, I sponsored the Bullet (motorcycle) for the winner,” said Munna, recalling the days he practised under Mangal Singh’s strict supervision.

Munna believes that mud-wrestling forms a strong base for professional freestyle wrestling, and it was one of the reasons why Haryana produced so many wrestlers.

“Wrestling is a part of the Haryana culture. Our effort is to make Kushti an integral part of sports in Jharkhand, in rural as well as urban areas,” he said.

What adds to Munna’s commendable initiative is the fact that it comes at a time when the state is struggling to provide enough facilities and training to sportspersons, with wrestlers being no exception.

First Published: May 27, 2017 16:34 IST