Pro Wrestling League’s (PWL) NCR franchisee, Punjab Royals picked up Indian wrestling’s hottest property at the moment, Bajrang Punia for Rs 30 lakhs, during the players draft at the Hyatt here on Friday. Vinesh Phogat, who became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Jakarta Asian Games last year, went to Mumbai Maharathi for Rs 25 lakhs. Both Bajrang, who will take part in the 65kg category, and Vinesh, who will wrestle in the 53kg category, featured for UP Dangal in the last edition.
Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik (62kg), who was with Mumbai Maharathi in the last edition, was picked by Delhi Sultans for Rs 20 lakhs. The highest-paid foreign wrestlers were Venesa Kaladzinskaya (53kg) from Belarus, who went to UP Dangal, and Khetik Tsabalov (74kg) from Russia, who went to Delhi Sultans, for Rs 25 lakhs each.
The Delhi Sultans also got Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medalist Rahul Aware (57kg) and 2018 World Military Championship gold medalist Khetik Tsabolov from Russia who will feature in the 74kg category. The 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist Pooja Dhanda (57kg), went to debutant MP Yodhas along with national champion Ritu Phogat (53kg) and Sandeep Tomar (57kg). Another prize catch for the debutants has been 2018 European Championship gold medalist Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan who will wrestle in the 65Kg category.
Two youngsters in fray, 2018 World Junior Championship gold medalist Anastasia Nichita (57Kg) of Moldova goes to Haryana Hammers and 2018 Junior National Championship gold medalist Sachin Rathi (74Kg) goes to Mumbai Maharathi. The 2018 European Championship bronze medalist Tayana Omelchenko (62Kg) from Azerbaijan was also picked by Haryana Hammers along with 2017 Commomwealth Games silver medalist Praveen Rana (74Kg). The 2018 Pan American Championship bronze medalist Betzabeth Angelica (57Kg) from Venezuela went to Mumbai Maharathi.
Four national championship gold medalists last year i.e. Amit Dhankhar (74Kg) went to Punjab Royals, Jitender (74Kg) went to UP Dangal, Rajneesh (65kg) went to Haryana Hammers and Harphool (65Kg) went to Mumbai Maharathi.
WFI president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh said: “I am really glad to announce that PWL-4 is happening from January 14, 2019 and I welcome the new team, MP Yodha from Madhya Pradesh. Wrestling is a very popular sport in India with huge fan following and PWL is only enhancing its popularity year after year. After the draft today, all teams look pretty balanced with a good mixture of youth and experience. The foreign wrestlers in the fray will make PWL-4 an interesting event to be watched and followed in various social media platforms. PWL is also giving our young wrestlers a platform to participate with world class wrestlers which will go a long way in sharpening their skills in the coming years.”
The fourth edition of the popular wrestling league is scheduled to start from January 14, 2019. The league which is scheduled to go on till the 31st offers a price purse of Rs 1.9 crores for the winning team and Rs 1.1 crore for the runners-up team. The brain child of ProSportify and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), PWL is the biggest Olympic wrestling league in the country and it promises to be bigger and better than ever this year with the addition of a new team from Madhya Pradesh.
The six teams picked 54 from a strong pool of 225 players which included prominent Olympic medalists, continental champions, world champions, national champions and other wrestlers from all over the world. With the completion of the players’ draft, PWL-4 will see participants from Asia, Europe, Africa and the American continent.