WFI-JSW Group partnership aims to lift Indian wrestling

A file photograph of Bajrang Punia (left) after a bout
A file photograph of Bajrang Punia (left) after a bout

The Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS), run by the JSW Group, will gain global visibility as India’s wrestling jersey will feature their logo until the 2024 Paris Olympics.

According to an agreement inked earlier this month between the IIS and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), the logo will also be printed on all official clothing, including referees kit, apart from the playing kit of the athletes.

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said there was an opportunity to add a logo to the India jersey and JSW Group grabbed the chance.

"We are thrilled to partner with WFI to help the sport achieve greater heights in the coming years. I’m confident through this partnership we will be able to positively impact the sport and India’s performance in the run-up to Paris 2024,” IIS founder Parth Jindal said in a statement.

As per the partnership, 21 elite wrestlers across age groups will soon begin to receive a monthly stipend. Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya are in the group.

Financial modalities are being worked out and the monthly stipend will start soon, the WFI president said.

IIS's high-performance wrestling training center in Karnataka will also be open to WFI for tournaments and camps.

"IIS will work together with the WFI to promote wrestling as well as organize regular national championships at IIS, which has good facilities for wrestling,” Jindal added.

The IIS wrestling program, run by Cuba’s Yandro Quintana and Iran's Amir Tavakolian, has been productive in terms of performance since 2017.

“The foreign coaches at IIS have groomed several wrestlers who went on to excel at the international level,” the statement further said.

India’s elite grapplers have featured among the medals regularly since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Post the Tokyo Olympic Games last year, the WFI president hit out at private sponsors saying he wasn’t satisfied with their functioning as they dealt directly with the wrestlers.

"Our main concern was that the federation should also be kept in the loop about what is happening,” the WFI president explained.

Earlier, the JSW Group worked directly with the wrestlers. However, under the new agreement all three entities - the wrestlers, the federation and the IIS - will work in unison.

According to the WFI president, a more organized system will give opportunities to a wider range of wrestlers.

"It will augur well for the future of wrestling in India. We hope it will also enable us to improve our medal tally at the 2024 Summer Games,” he concluded.

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Edited by Sanjay Rajan
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