India: The Guru Hanuman Akhara

61 images Created 22 Oct 2012

For almost 3000 years loincloth clad duels on mud have transfixed spectators across India. Yet wrestling in India is a sport in transition. In 2004 the Indian Fighters Federation tried to prohibit the practice of traditional mud wrestling, claiming that for India to compete at an international level fighters must train using mats. Whilst competing on mud can earn good money for a wrestler at events called dungals in India's countryside, the techniques are starkly different. ..The Guru Hanuman Akhara, a wrestling school in Old Delhi, is the epicentre of this ancient wrestling tradition as it begins to enter the modern world. Now training fighters on both mats and mud the school has produced hundreds of champions at both domestic and international level. Established in 1925, making it the oldest in India, it was in 1955 that Vijay Pal, or Guru Hanuman as he later became known, took over the coaching.

Born to a poor family in the desert state of Rajasthan he chose never to marry and instead dedicated his whole life to wrestling, becoming a legend, who created a model for modern Indian wrestling by combining traditional Indian wrestling called Kushti with international standards. His statue and mausoleum stands overlooking the outer courtyard of the school.
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