Traditional wrestling fighting for survival
Sports

Traditional wrestling fighting for survival

March 13, 2017

By C.K. Muralidharan

Mysuru overshadowed by the grandeur of its Palaces and the magnificent world famous ‘Dasara Festival’, has seen the age old tradition sport wrestling slowly going into oblivion and dying a slow death.

Wrestling, which was patronised by the erstwhile rulers of Mysore, has slowly been dwindling and is been less practiced in the Garadis (wrestling houses) in and around Mysuru. Having over 250 Garadis in the olden days and well known wrestlers like ‘Rudra Mooga’, Tiger Balaji and later on wrestlers like Shankar Chakravarthy, Lokesh, Girish, making name in the national level, the sport has seen less interest amongst the wrestlers due to lack of financial support.

Less attention from the civic bodies to maintain and run the Garadis in Mysuru and government not interested to provide funds for the maintenance of the garadis has forced many to shut down.

Less exposure for wrestlers

A popular sport in the old Mysuru region, the wrestling finds no exposure beyond Dasara Wrestling Championship which is held every year during the navaratri festival. Nada Kusti events, freestyle and Greco-Roman style wrestling National championships are held every year during Dasara.

The wrestling bouts between 60’s and 80’s were held regularly at the Sauhkar Chenniah Kusti Akkada and the Mysore Zilla Garadi Sangha was instrumental in training young wrestlers who went on to bring laurels at the national level.  After the closure of the arena, there was lull in the activity and only State-level Dasara competitions were held every year. Luckily, since February 2011, the sport has seen some revival due to the efforts of the wrestling enthusiasts and administrators, with monthly exhibition ‘Nada Kusti’ bouts being conducted at the D. Devraja Urs Multipurpose Wrestling Stadium at the Exhibition grounds.

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The Negilayogi Trust has been formed and a corpus fund of Rs.5 lakh has been set up with contributions from former wrestlers and sports promoters so that activity goes on without a lull. But, this does not in any way improve the local talents and local wrestling. The local wrestlers need to be given more opportunity to display their talent both in the ‘Nada Kusti’ and the ‘Greco-Roman’ style of wrestling.

A Nada Kusti bout about to begin during the Dasara wrestling competition. Picture right: Wrestlers seen in action in the Greco-Roman style in the competitions.

Coaching

The traditional wrestling has not been a popular sports among the youngsters is because of the lack of good coaching facilities. It is a must for that concerned department to identify talents from different garadis so that they can be groomed by qualified coaches. Though there are professional wrestling schools for in Davanagere and Dharwad, the same has been denied to Mysuru.

The Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYSS) and Sports Authority of Karnataka (SAK) must encourage the wrestling by starting an exclusive training school for wrestling if the sport has to continue for the future generations.

The Department of Youth Empowerment & Sports (DYES) is said to have sent a proposal to the State Finance Department requesting for allocation of funds to set up a wrestling academy in Mysuru. Though, Youth Empowerment and Sports Minister Pramod Madhwaraj claimed that the request was cleared no action has been initiated till now. The Government provided wrestling mats to wrestling schools in various parts of the State and late year it had also allocated Rs. 2.5 crore each for restoring the traditional wresting houses (garadi mane) in the State.

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Government support

The sport is still patronised cities such as Kholapur, Sangli, Bhivani in Haryana and Punjab by both the respective State Governments and its people as well. What our State Government needs to do is to just provide the necessary facilities for the wrestlers to practice and who knows another Susheel Kumar or Sakshi Mallik might emerge out of our garadis as well.

The State Government needs to enhance the current pension being paid for the wrestlers. City’s wrestling coach L. Manjappa, opined that “The wrestlers should be provided with proper training, kits and latest infrastructure along with proper diet for them to perform at the highest level.  Apart from all these wrestlers must be provided with financial assistance and job security.”

As part of the revival process, the State Government must open garadis at N.R. Mohalla, K.G. Koppal, VV Mohalla, Hinkal, Srirangapatna, Ittigegud, Agrahara, Hinkal, Hootagalli, Srirangapatna, KRS and Ganjam. There is need for committed people including officers to come together and plan to safeguard the sport for the generations to come.

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