The second edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) promises to be bigger and better than the inaugural one with the world’s top grapplers set to feature in the one-month-long event next month.
The PWL 2 was unveiled in New Delhi on Wednesday with several top-notched wrestlers of the world, including India’s Sakshi Malik, walking the ramp wearing designer clothes.
Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi said the league has helped her in becoming a top wrestler and she was looking forward to the second season, which will see eight teams competing for the trophy.
“The league gives an opportunity to young and talented Indians to face world’s top wrestlers and improve their game. I am certainly looking forward to the tournament as I get to learn a lot,” Sakshi, who walked the ramp wearing designer Rohit Bal’s creation, said.
Besides Sakshi, three other Olympic medallists Yogeshwar Dutt, Sofia Mattsson of Sweden and Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan along with CWG medallist Yana Rattigan, Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari walked the ramp for designers like Rohit Bal, JJ Vallaya, Ashish Soni and Rohit Gandhi.
London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar said while it was unlikely for him to take part in the upcoming league as his wedding is scheduled in January next year, he was still trying to work things out and play a few matches.
“I want to play in the League. I am trying to work out if I can play some part of it. My wedding is scheduled around mid January and that’s clashing with the tournament,” said Yogeshwar.
With Sakshi having bagged an Olympic medal, Yogeshwar feels that the League would help the women wrestlers come to the fore as talented young girls are wanting to do well in the sport.
“It is going to be a very good exposure for the junior women wrestlers who are keen to do well, especially after Sakshi’s achievement at the Rio Games,” said Yogeshwar.
Asked if Pakistani wrestlers should be allowed to take part in the League, Yogeshwar said, “They should not be a part of the league till the situation between the two countries improves.
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh insisted that PWL 2 will see more top wrestlers of the world in action.
“During last year’s inaugural edition also, we had invited top wrestlers from around the world but since it was the first edition and also in the run-up to Olympic year, many opted out. But after last year’s success, more grapplers are keen to take part and we have extended an invitation to almost all wrestling playing countries,” said Singh.
“We have also invited the wrestlers from Iran, who are considered one of the strongest. Even if our wrestlers lose to them, it would be a very good exposure for them and we will like the Iranians to be a part of the tournament,” he added.
Asked about double-Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar’s absence from the League, Singh said: “There is no ban on any wrestler to take part in the PWL. Whoever is willing to play will play and WFI is not going to stop anyone if he/she is keen to compete.”
Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sofia Mattson said that she was very excited to participate in the League as she could not be a part of it last year due to the Olympic schedule.
“I could not be a part of the League last year as we were supposed to follow the schedule strictly in the run-up to the Olympics but I have heard so much about it.
“I have heard that spectators come out in large numbers and it is an electrifying atmosphere. I am looking forward to all the action and fun. Hopefully, I will be picked up by some franchise and come back to India,” said Sofia.
PWL 2 auction is likely to take place on November 15 or 16. Another Indian Olympian wrestler Babita Kumari said playing in the League was a different ball game.
“There is a different kind of a pressure in a team game as because of you, your team can win or lose if that is the deciding bout. So, there is a different kind of a responsibility but I enjoy it. I am looking forward to put my best foot forward during the tournament,” said Babita.