Rohit Kumar burst on to the scene in the third edition of the Pro Kabaddi League when he represented the Patna Pirates. With his dazzling pace and thunderous raids, he soon became a nightmare for the Pirates’ opponent teams and a household name across India.
The boisterous raider is now in charge of the Bengaluru Bulls, a franchise he joined in the fourth season. The Bulls, who endured a miserable Season 4 despite Rohit’s heroics, will be looking up to their talismanic leader to give them a bright start when they take on the Telugu Titans in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Here are 10 things you should know about the Bulls skipper:
1. Rohit Kumar was born on 19th January 1990 in Nizampur, Haryana. With the village being the hotbed for the combat sport, Rohit had a natural inclination for kabaddi. Nizampur has gifted India gems such as Manjeet Chhillar, Mohit Chhillar, Rakesh Kumar, who imparted their knowledge to the kids growing up and acted as their mentors.
“We were just kids when senior players like Manjeet Chhillar and Rakesh Kumar used to train in Nizampur. They used to teach the junior players the basics of the game. Seeing them excel in the sport gave me the confidence to achieve something similar in the world of kabaddi,” Rohit has said while reminiscing about his childhood days.
2. Rohit is hugely indebted to the sport. In 2009, kabaddi is what helped him get admitted at the Naval Forces through the sports quota. Being a self-confessed die-hard fan of Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar, Rohit readily agreed to move to the Naval base in Mumbai, hoping it would bring him a much-coveted opportunity to meet his idol.
3. He could have donned the U Mumba jersey in the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League but was not released by the Services Sports Controlled Board (SSCB). Hence, he had to wait till the third season to make his grand debut in the blockbuster pan-Indian league.
4. His maiden appearance in the Pro-Kabaddi league proved to be a memorable one. His ruthless attacking and superb flexibility led the Patna Pirates to their first title. In just 12 matches, he accumulated a staggering 102 raid points and was rightly adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the season.
5. His Season 3 exploits are further validated by the fact that he scored the highest number of Super 10s along with his then-teammate Pardeep Narwal. Out of the 12 matches he played for the Pirates, the flamboyant raider was able to score a 10 or more five times.
6. Rohit even went on to fulfil his father’s dream of him playing for India when he was selected in the national squad for the 2016 South Asian Games held in Guwahati and Shillong. Despite it being his maiden call-up to the national team set-up, Rohit displayed a lot of maturity and earned the gold medal for his country.
7. The star was picked by Bengaluru Bulls in the fourth season to amp up their attacking brigade. The Bulls, who had finished as runners-up in the second season, fared poorly in Season 3 and needed someone of Rohit’s calibre.
In spite of having to shoulder most of the burden himself, he proved himself more than capable for the Bulls. He notched up 93 raid points in 14 appearances, which saw the southern franchise buy him back for the ongoing fifth season for a whopping Rs. 81 lakh.
8. He got involved in an unsavoury incident in October last year. His wife of less than a year allegedly committed suicide following which the kabaddi player was arrested and later released on bail.
9. Rohit Kumar’s deep reverence for Akshay Kumar has been well-known. The kabaddi exponent has never shied away from talking about it. His fondness for the actor has seen him sport Akshay’s face and birthday as tattoos on his arm, besides which he has also inked the name ‘Akki’ below his neck.
Even his Instagram handle too is dedicated to the khiladi and is named @rohit.c.akki.
“He has been my idol for a long time now. The amount of hard work he has done to achieve these great heights in the film industry is extraordinary. He had no family relations in the film industry before joining it, he had his struggles and he overcame all that with his hard work. I try to emulate that whenever I am on the mat playing kabaddi, though I have not met him in person yet,” Rohit has said in an earlier interview.
10. His lifelong dream of meeting the superstar finally came true on July 29, 2017 of which the kabaddi player has gushed about on his Instagram page. He shared a heartwarming photo of himself emotionally embracing Akshay Kumar at the Trident Hotel in Hyderabad and captioned it as ‘Tears of joy have never been sweeter.”