J&K's Khali eyeing for WWE
He is perhaps the first person from Jammu and Kashmir to make a mark in professional wrestling in India and is now eyeing to be the Indian entry into WWE for which trials will be held later this year.
Arif Saleem Bohru, who goes by the ring name of Badshah Khan, played scores of fights to prove his mettle in professional wrestling in India under the patronage of Dalip Singh Rana or The Great Khali, the first Indian to win the World Heavyweight Championship in WWE. (The professional wrestling or pro-wrestling outcomes are predetermined or scripted and are mostly done for entertainment. However, the physical stunts in the fights are real).
Khan, known among people as J&K's Khali, said he is the first person from Jammu and Kashmir to train under The Great Khali at his Jalandhar academy and fight the Indian version of professional wrestling organized by the former WWE star.
At 6 foot 2 inches and 105 kgs in weight, Khan is now eyeing to be the Indian entry this year into the WWE. “I am preparing for the tryouts which will be held in Mumbai most probably in June-July,” Khan said.
Just 23 years of age, the young lad comes from a remote Neel valley of Banihal in Ramban district where even roads and power supply is still rudimentary. For the past three years, he has been training and doing wrestling at the Khali’s Jalandhar academy.
“I am the only one from J&K to do this. I have 100 matches to my credit and many of them are on Youtube. In wrestling, if one proves oneself he gets a chance and I proved myself in front of the champion Khali. Now I will be proving myself in front of the world,” he said.
“My village Neel is a backward mountainous area some 40 km from Banihal railway. There are no roads here and we hardly see electricity. People struggle a lot to make their ends meet and mostly do farming,” he said.
Khan said that he was fascinated by professional wrestling from the very childhood particularly after he heard stories from his father who is a sub-inspector in CRPF.
“My father told me about Khali, how he used to be a labourer crushing stones and how a police officer saw him and brought him into the force and how he went into bodybuilding and then ultimately into wrestling,” he said.
Khan said he was very much frustrated when he could not find the ways where he could do wrestling.
“For us, it was a US game but then when the Khali opened a center in Jalandhar and I also got a chance to prove myself. I went for training in 2018,” he said.
Before that, he had completed his class 12 and used to perform athletics and participate in races. “I was crazy for wrestling from childhood but there is no platform here in J&K. I want the government to promote professional wrestling so that we make a career in wrestling in India like hockey and cricket,” he said.
Khan, who has two younger siblings who are studying, said that all his expenses were borne by his father. His schedule is very hard as he has to take a very high protein diet. “There is a wrestling class for 4 hours, then I have 2 hours of cardio and 2 hours for gymming,” he said.
Khan said that his dream is now to make his mark in the WWE for which rules have changed this year owing to Covid-19. “We will be having tryouts in India this year. This is my first trial for international level wrestling,” he said.
Every participant will have to give trials, play a match and then shoot a promo of their life’s struggles to reach this point.
“Even celebrities from sports like hockey, kabaddi, cricket and bodybuilding can also participate but the professional wrestlers get the preference because we know the rules. Celebrities are brought for promotion,” he said.