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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 May 2018

South Asian wrestling arrives in the UAE as India take on Pakistan

The Indo-Pak Kushti Wrestling Championship in Dubai took place at the Hamdan Sports Complex

Tayyab Pahelwan of Pakistan celebrates during The Indo-Pak Kushti Wrestling Championship in Dubai. Francois Nel/Getty Images
Tayyab Pahelwan of Pakistan celebrates during The Indo-Pak Kushti Wrestling Championship in Dubai. Francois Nel/Getty Images

South Asian traditional wrestling came to the UAE on Friday with ten of India’s top fighters taking on their Pakistani counterparts.

The Indo-Pak Kushti Wrestling Championship in Dubai drew a fiercely-partisan crowd of some 500 people backing the mixture of professional and amateurs fighting for national pride, hoping to catch the notice of talent-spotters or with an eye on an even greater prize.

“My dream is to become known as the greatest wrestler of all,” says Abaid Pahelwan, 20. The Pakistani is a recent arrival to the UAE where he works as cleaner. “I trained three times a day for three years to get my professional fighting skills.”

Ranjit Pahelwan of India competes against Goga Pahelwan of Pakistan. Francois Nel/Getty Images
Ranjit Pahelwan of India competes against Goga Pahelwan of Pakistan. Francois Nel/Getty Images

Krishan Sarohr, an arts graduate and one of the top five wrestlers in India, began training at the age of ten to become a professional wrestler. His father and grandfather were both wrestlers. “My only motivation is to fight for the name of my country,” he said. “This has been my dream since I was a child.”

Tayyab Raza, from Pakistan, considers himself one of the tougher men in the competition. “I exercise almost four hours a day,” he said. “My dream is to become an Olympic champion.”

The competition, held annually since 2009, took place at Hamdan Sports Complex.

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