Who says wrestling doesn’t pay?

August 21st, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) Wrestling may be anything but a glamorous sport, but contrary to popular perception there is plenty of money in it. And Sushil Kumar’s Olympic bronze medal will obviously add to the cash value.If Sushil’s coach Yashvir Singh is to be believed, an average wrestler can make anything between Rs.8,00,000 to Rs.1 million annually, with top competitors like Sushil, Rajiv Tomer and Yogeshwar Dutt commanding several times that amount.

“Sky is the limit for wrestlers but the tournaments, which offer high prize money, are certainly not glamorous. There is huge prize money involved in the dangals (contest) held in the village akhadas (wrestling rings) in different parts of north India. And some of our wrestlers are regular winners in those contests,” Yashvir, coach at the Chattarsal Stadium in north Delhi, told IANS Thursday.

Chattarsal Stadium is the only residential camp for wrestlers in the country and is funded by the state government. Sushil, Rajiv and Yogeshwar all grew up mud-wrestling at the stadium.

Yashvir said: “Top wrestlers like Tomer and Sushil make Rs. 3 million annually. While others who are below them make something around Rs.8,00,000 to Rs. 1 million per annum. Contests are also held at village fairs and lot of prize money is also offered in those competitions.”

Asked whether Sushil’s bronze will give a boost to the tournaments, the coach said: “Earlier there used to be big dangals but now the organisers have broken away to form small dangals. But I feel the medal will obviously increase the prize money.”

Young wrestlers at the camp are very excited after Sushil’s feat and feel that the sport’s profile will get an lift.

“Wrestlers generally come from very poor families and we have to think of a livelihood very soon. I think Sushil bhai’s medal will certainly bring some more money into the sport so that we can make a living out of it,” said 16-year-old Devi Singh.

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