Hitting the clay in Mumbai

Far away from the Indian cricket pitch where pristine whites demand respect, is the dirty, sweaty world of kushti. The traditional style of Indian wrestling sees players take to a red clay pit, where they grab, push and throw each other to the ground. Within minutes their muscular bodies are masked in orange, with clay clinging to their eyebrows and hair.

Here Kushti wrestler, Sanjay Chavan talks about the discipline and comradarie that goes along with the traditional sport.

The 33-year-old wrestler is part of a troupe of young men that train at a gym or akharas in Mumbai. The wrestlers, mostly from small farming villages across the state of Maharastra have gathered to become experts in the sport – all hoping to win themselves glory and fame at the National Championships.

Daily practise is required to retain fitness levels and there are strict codes of discipline that rule each wrestler’s life.

Young men grunt in exertion as they climb ropes and use their own body weight to improve their muscular strength in a series of yoga inspired exercises. Next to the clay pit is a gym where men pump iron in front of long mirrors.

Wrestlers admire themselves under the watchful eyes of bodybuilder posters and the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman who is worshipped for his muscular body and his participation in the ancient sport.


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