Wrestling as a sport has come into the limelight, with several star studded films being made on the subject. Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt at an event recently spoke volumes about the growing popularity of the sport.
The wrestler said that the support from the government is must to encourage sports among youngsters. He said, “As long as governments keep supporting sports just like the Telangana government is doing, 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,” says Dutt.
Yogeshwar’s dream has been achieved, but the journey has not been 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’s is a focussed mind and he has few other interests, other than wrestling. “In my free time, I prefer sleeping. I also enjoy listening to Haryanvi songs,” he says and confesses, “I don’t get 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.”...