Wrestling or ‘Kushti’ is an ancient and traditional sport of India. The land of brave heroes is also known by giant sized men with titanic bodies proudly stepping into the akhada (wrestling arena) to fight with other men.
Kushti was usually held for men to give them an opportunity to prove their strength on Indian soil bare footed. Women yearned to get a glimpse of bare bodies of these muscular men. This sport is also played in other countries all around the world as ‘wrestling’.
The one holing maximum strength wins the game in wrestling. The Indian version is a little different from that played in western countries. Indian wrestlers have achieved amazing success in wrestling which helped them achieve huge recognition all over the world.
Here is a list of some of the best Indian wrestlers who achieved name and fame internationally:
1. The Great Khali
Also known by his real name Dalip Singh Rana, the Great Khali made his debut as a professional wrestler in the year 2000 with Diavari in All Pro Wrestling (APW) in the United States. The debut was made under his ring name, Giant Singh. Before entering into the wrestling career, Khali served as an office in Punjab Police. He is widely celebrated for his WWE times. He was ranked as the eighth tallest professional wrestler in the year 2014. In the year 2007, Khali went on to hold the title of the World Heavyweight Champion.
2. The Great Gama
The celebrated wrestler Ghulam Muhammad is widely known by his stage name, The Great Gama. He was born in Amritsar, British India. Gama was considered as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Later on, he shifted his base to newly formed Islamic nation Pakistan. In the year 1910, Gama was awarded with the Indian version of World Heavyweight Championship. Born during the era of pre-independence, this wrestler remained undefeated throughout his career of over 52 years.
3. Sushil Kumar Solanki
The wrestler is the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals. He was also felicitated with many international medals for sterling performance in the field of wrestling. These remarkable achievements helped him get rewarded by several cash awards from different states and central governments of India. Later on, Solanki received many prestigious honors including Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Padma Shri in 2011, and Arjuna Award 2005.
4. Karim Baksh
This ace wrestler Baksh was considered to be one of the craftiest pehelwans of the era. He was also the first wrestler from Indian subcontinent to create headlines all over the world. At the age of 21, Baksh defeated Tom Cannon of England in the year 1892. It was an amazing and most memorable defeat by the Indian school to the professional school of wrestling. It was marked as the first international contact of India. Baksh was a thorough leg wrestler who simply cut away the legs of his competitors. The wrestler also received the prestigious title Rustom-e-Hind.
5. Dara Singh
A very famous professional wrestler, actor and politician, Singh enjoyed huge fan following among sports lovers and the whole country. He was the first sportsperson to be nominated for the Indian Rajya Sabha. Trained by famous wrestler Harnam Singh, he competed all around the world with strong opponents such as Rikidozan, Ski Hi Lee, Bill Verna, John Da Silva, and many others. People were huge fans of his iconic act of flooring King Kong. In the year 1983, he announced his retirement during his last tournament in Delhi. Singh had won many prestigious titles for World Wrestling Championship, WWWA World Heavyweight Championship, Rustom-e-Hind, Commonwealth Championship, and Rustom-e-Punjab. The Hall of Fame in the year 1996 was his last honor for wrestling. This was bestowed to him by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
6. Narsingh Yadav
The wrestler has always been involved in controversies. However, Yadav had never failed to prove his mettle. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he won gold medal in men’s freestyle 74 kg category. Unfortunately, this talented wrestler was debarred from 2016 Rio Olympics. He was also banned for 4 years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of doping. The allegations were believed to put up by a rival group to prevent him from the participating in the prestigious event.