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Varanasi
Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The small Karnataka town that produces world-class wrestlers

While Haryana is known for producing champion wrestlers, there is another wrestling-crazy town tucked away in Karnataka’s Bagalkote District. Mudhol is a town that has been producing wrestlers with the potential to provide podium finishes. 17-year-old Ningappa Genannavar is the latest champion from the town who won gold at the Under-17 Asian Championships in 45kg freestyle in Kyrgyzstan. The patronage of local ruler Nanasaheb Ghorpade has added to the wrestling love of Mudhol residents.

 “In Mudhol, people’s support has been good. Every year, we organise state-level tournaments fully funded by our patrons. The wrestlers from Mudhol have always [done well] in the state- and national-level championships. We need a sports hostel in Mudhol as there are enough promising wrestlers”, The Week reports quoting former wrestler Kalmesh Hanagodi.

Ningappa is a product of the Jai Hanuman Vyayam Shaala, an akhada in Mudhol’s Shivaji Circle. Sandeep Kate (silver, 2016 Commonwealth Championships) and Sunil Padtare (silver, World School Games) are other champions produced by the Vyayam Shaala. The Vyayam Shaala was started by veteran wrestler Ningappa Vastada to nurture talent.

It is a three-storey akhada where young talents throng to hone their skills. Even local residents frequent the akhada and take a personal interest in the progress of the wrestlers. They also attend training sessions and give tips to the wrestlers.

Traditional wrestling houses known as garadi manes are reinventing themselves into modern wrestling centres. Even the Vyayam Shaala has reinvented itself with a traditional mud pit on the ground floor, a hall of fame on the first floor, and a mat hall on the third floor. The hall of fame has banners with photos of students who have won medals in state-level competitions and were selected for government sports hostels.

They don’t neglect traditional wrestling even while keeping their focus on international competitions and medals. A special variety of wrestling soil is brought from Belagavi’s Gokak hills. “The mud is treated with buttermilk, lemon juice, camphor and coconut oil to help retain its fertility”, says Ningappa’s coach Arun Kumakale.

Poverty is a big issue in north Karnataka due to which many students are unable to afford nutritious food or training. Additional expenses for items such as milk, ghee, almonds, fruits and supplements, required by wrestlers are to be borne by the family. Both boys and girls are encouraged to take to wrestling in Mudhol. Therefore, the government should provide support to young talents of the town who require financial aid.

(Featured Image Source: The Week)

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