The coronavirus pandemic has upended the gains made by the mud wrestling or indigenously known as dangal. If you follow the thump of the drumbeat and the cheer of the crowd in any village of Punjab, Haryana or Maharashtra, it will lead you to the game. The essence of the rural sport is easily fathomable from the huge crowd it attracts to the giant hoardings set up to publicise the muscular and bulky wrestlers posing in their langots (loin-cloth). It is a common sight in northern India, but with the outbreak, the sport faces an uncertain future.
Uttam Rao Patil, a retired Indian Army wrestling coach, now runs a centre in Maharashtra’s Sangli district. It is located in Kavalapur village and hundreds of wrestlers have trained there over three...Read more