Indian wrestler Sangram Singh who won the Commonwealth Heavyweight Wrestling Championship that held in South Africa is hoping the government to work at the grass-root level for the betterment of wrestling as a sport. Sangram also emphasized the role of media in promoting sports in general.
Last year, the 32-year-old overcame Kevin Radford Jr of the US and earned the championship belt in the first KD Jadhav Memorial International Wrestling Championship.
In a heart to heart chat, the former commonwealth heavyweight champion, Sangram gave his inputs why traditional wrestling has taken a back seat and Pro wrestling has taken everyone by storm
Q. In our country we only have 2-3 big names in wrestling, what is the reason that we could not produce more wrestlers and why wrestling is limited to Haryana and Delhi?
Ans. Wrestling is one of the oldest sport in our country and if we want to promote this sport then we all have to come together. We all have to take our responsibilities. Our youth have to come forward and not only from villages but from metro cities as well. Wrestling has given huge boost to the country. Wrestling is not about to be indulge in unnecessary fights, a wrestler is a person who is physically fit, mentally prepared and disciplined. And it is the responsibility of every wrestler rather I would say it is a moral duty of every wrestler to encourage the next generation, young children, so that it can fulfill our dreams as well. There is strength in unity. Many players who won medals sometimes act separately because of ego issues and it does not help the sport to grow. Some movies have also released on wrestling which gave huge boost to the sport but if we want to continue it then senior players have to respect juniors.
Q. We don’t get that good coaching structure or coaches in India which lack us to win medals, what is your say on this?
Ans. Today, most of us who participates in sports are from middle-class family and we do it to get good physique and to get a better job and to fulfill other needs of our family. And this wastes the 80% talent and the remaining 5-10% gets stuck in personal fights like who will go and perform. Our players who fight international bouts, their coaches always feel scared to take the referral which put us on the back seat. In India, many youngsters in villages are not that educated and there is no one to guide them to counsel them. But today the scenario is not the same, there are multiple sources available. Now, target is to go and win the medal and the person who wins the medal gets all the fame and money but the one who lost is still there. Then, how the youngsters will come forward.
Q. In this cricket crazy nation, how crucial role is played by media to cover and promote wrestling?
Ans. See, media coverage is very important but it is not media’s mistake. The thing is cricket federation is a rich body and players in that sport is mostly educated and everyone always praise each other in cricket. But not in wrestling, they do not support everyone, they only praise there children who are getting training under them. Media is a great medium today and it is the essential part of our society. Media is giving coverage in multiple things but in wrestling we are not using it appropriately. Wrestling is the only sport where a young wrestler touches the feet of senior wrestler, as it is a very decent game.
Q. You are example for youth, how did you overcome your struggle and achieve the success?
Ans. I’m from a humble family, I did not know much, I was not able to speak at one stage but despite facing a lot of struggles still I managed to achieve national medal and became one of the best world’s professional wrestlers and since two years, I’m a heavyweight champion. A child who could not even walk properly is now coming up with a show and I’m doing a film as well, so I just want to say to youth that we should never give up in life. The things which challenges you, changes you. And India is a very potential country and wrestling is very decent game and we should keep it that way and promote it.
Q. You are busy in multiple things, then how do you maintain your focus on the game and emerge as a champion?
Ans. See, I still do practice and hard work for at least 4 hours a day and try different things. The things I could not do at a young age, I’m doing it now. I’m doing summer salt now. And in wrestling, I practice for six rounds of three minutes each. So, I don’t want to say many things to youth, just want them to stay focused and leave everything else. And there is an old proverb, if you have a target then make it that big that you don’t get the time to do other irrelevant things. And speak good for everyone, it is a very small life so we should always do good and stay positive.
Q. What can we do on a grass-root level in wrestling to promote the sport?
Ans. Youth always get inspired from the stories of sportsman whether it’s mine or any other person’s but it always motivates youngsters. The experts who are saying that we should work on a grass-root level, I want them to stop thinking and start doing it. I have about 30 students under my guidance and I’m taking care of their education, their uniforms, their sports and with this I have a total of 154 children under me and I’m supporting them to do good in their life from grass-root level.
Q. You remain so natural and blunt, what makes you so honest in real life?
Ans. First of all, I would like to say that humanity is the biggest thing in life and if you want to achieve something in life then you have to do hard work for it. If you are a good person, then people will automatically ask about you and they will respect you and learn from you but if you are rude and not humble then how he would teach youngsters. And people who love themselves and love humanity will not say anything wrong for anybody. In India, people generally pull each other legs and did not let anyone succeed easily which this should not happen.
Q. What are your plans in 2018? Are you going to fight some big bouts this year?
Ans. In 2018, I’m going to fight 3-4 big bouts, one in Mumbai, one in Hyderabad, then in Bengaluru. This is my plan for 2018.
Q. Has the recent controversies in Wrestling affected the game and its public image?
Ans. The controversies always take the game on back seat. If you think that you will do controversies and you will get fame is absolutely wrong. It will always affect the game. Forget about Rio, We can win a lot of medals in Tokyo Olympics. We just have to believe in ourselves. I have only one message for seniors that if you did not win medals in your time then you should set an example for the current wrestlers. And other thing is we should focus on support staff, whether we have to hire an international coach or Indian coach, the focus should be getting more and more medals. Our sports minister, Mr. Rathore is also a medalist and he is a good person and today government also supports all the athletes, so they should focus on game and prepare young lads. And champion is not who won the medal or achieve something, the champion is who keep trying.
About the Author
Shekhar Dhingra is a sports journalist with 1.5 years of experience, having worked with sports business website "Market4Sports". He resides in New Delhi and is a die-hard sports fan with special affection for cricket and badminton. He desperately waits for weekend to relax his soul by playing cricket.