For the first time in the history of wrestling, a wrestling championship has been planned to be introduced in a manner the cricket IPL is being run. It is a venture designed by the Wresting Federation of India (WFI) and its marketing agent Leisure Sports Management (LSM). The championship, named Indian Wrestling League, will have similar attractions like the involvement of Bollywood stars, cheer girls and the world’s top wrestlers.
Indian Wrestling League will have six franchise clubs. The League is likely to commence on November 6 and end in the first week of January. The championship will have both men’s and women’s sections, and the category will be free-style. The venues WFI has chosen for the staging the league are New Delhi, Agra, Mohali, Ludhiana, Sonpat, Hissar and Nandini Nagar.
The WFI though is yet to get the final confirmation from the six franchises for the league. But at the same time, there is already good news for the Federation as renowned Bollywood star Akshay Kumar has verbally given the nod to join the League.
According to a WFI top official, Akshay Kumar, who himself is keen to promote wrestling, has given his consent and might launch a club team for the league.
The WFI official said, “Although he has not revealed his plans in detail, we have come to know from his close associates that he wants to launch a club from Mohali.” The WFI is planning to organize the player auctions for the league at the end of September or in the first week of next month. The auction programme is likely to be staged in New Delhi. According to LSM boss, SS Dasgupta, “Each team will have an icon player. And there will not be any financial restrictions for the clubs to buy Icon players.”
The Federation acknowledges the face of the Indian wrestling, Sushil Kumar, and his two consecutive Olympic medals as being the inspiration for introducing this wrestling league. Mr Dasgupta said, “Sushil has earned two back-to-back Olympic medals. And his incredible success has guided us to start a project named ‘Road to 2016’. We started approaching the country’s several corporate houses, presenting this project. And after a couple of months they have finally started responding.”
Sushil Kumar himself is excited with this upcoming wrestling league. He commented, “It would help the Indian wrestling in a broader perspective. The players who are knocking on the door of the national team will be able to prepare themselves after playing against the world’s top wrestlers. The country’s young and promising wrestlers will also start getting interest in joining the sport more seriously when they will find that that they can make their career through the participation in league. And the players like us will have a proper preparation after playing in the league before participating in any international championship.”
Apart from Sushil Kumar, the top wrestlers from Japan and Kazakhstan have confirmed their participation in the Indian Wrestling League.