DUBAI: Supporters of India and Pakistan were out in full force at the India-Pakistan Kushti Championship 2016 at the Deira Open Ground last Friday.
An ancient and popular form of wrestling in the two neighbouring Asian countries, the sport has its share of takers in Dubai too as freestyle wrestlers accept duels and draw huge crowds on the sands of the old business district over the weekends.
Ruth Dickinson, managing partner of FittGROUP Middle East, organisers of the event, said over 2,000 spectators turn up for the championship every year as Kushti had grown in popularity in recent times.
As the sound of the drums marked the start of the 2016 championship, there was no mistaking that this year’s edition was a very special event.
Danil Bornventure, managing director of FittGROUP Middle East, said the contestants for the championship had specially flown in from Pakistan and India.
“They love the sport and are a highly dedicated lot,” he noted.
No sooner had the first pair of wrestlers taken centre stage than the crowd roared in anticipation. Wearing only briefs, they battled it out in bare flesh.
The audience waited with bated breath, not wanting to miss any part of the raw action and most important, the ultimate end to the duel, where one of the players is flattened to the ground, his upper back completely pinned to the ground.
The excitement only grew with each elimination round and by the time Mohammad Goga from Pakistan finally defeated Habeeb Abdullah Jelani from India, the crowds were ecstatic.
“Kushti is a spectator’s delight. I would never miss it for anything in the world,” said an elated Pakistani supporter.
“It is the raw power of the game that makes it so exciting. It looks like a free wheeling fight, but it requires a lot of skill and mastery,” said another.