Wrestling as a sport has come into the limelight, with several star studded films being made on the subject. Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt whose skills are unmatched believes that as long as governments keep supporting sports, more winners will emerge in the country.
Dutt comes from a family of academicians. Recalling his early days in wrestling, Dutt says, “In my town in Haryana, wrestling is very popular. One day, when I was eight years old, I went into an akhada just to try it out, and really enjoyed playing in the mud. My parents were very supportive. I was never asked to stop wrestling and spend more time studying.” He says that as a child, he would look up to ‘Balraj Pehlwan’, a wrestler from the same Akhada. “He used to be big and strong and everyone in the village knew him. I wanted to become just like him and wanted people to speak highly of me, like they spoke of him,” quips Dutt.
Yogeshwar’s dream has been achieved, but the journey was not easy. Just before the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, his father passed away. “It was very tough for me, but my family explained to me that my father’s wish was that I win many medals for my country. So I decided that I will give my best. I wanted to win Gold at Doha in his memory, but had to settle for Bronze. I finally felt like his dream had come true when I won the gold medal in the 2014 Asian Games,” he says.
The champion put humanity before everything else. Russian wrestler Besik Khudukov had defeated Dutt to win the silver medal in the Olympics. After his demise however, he proved positive in a dope test and Dutt’s bronze medal was upgraded to silver. Dutt however announced that he wanted Khudukov’s family to keep the silver medal. “Medals can always be won again, but they had lost their son forever. They needed it more than I did. My conscience didn’t let me accept the medal from the family,” he says.
Dutt has a focussed mind and has few other interests, apart from wrestling. “In my free time, I prefer sleeping. I also enjoy listening to Haryanvi songs,” he says and confesses, “I don’t get the time to watch movies, but I am glad that mainstream cinema is making the sport known to the masses. I was not interested in watching Sultan because it was not based on a true story of a wrestler — but I am looking forward to Dangal!”...