The Professional Wrestling League season three has been a grand success. Not just in terms of the organization, crowds and fan support, but also in terms of the sterling performances of some of the Indian wrestlers who have punched much above their weight to beat their much more fancied rivals. In this way, PWL has ensured its place in Indian wrestling as the ideal launching pad for Indian wrestlers to showcase their wares against the best in the world.
‘There is no doubt that the PWL gives the ideal chance for Indian wrestlers to compete and prove their worth. This is true not just in this edition of the PWL but also in the previous two editions as well. Let’s not forget that Sakshi Malik (the lone medal winner at the Rio Olympics) was also unearthed during the PWL, “ said an international wrestler who has competed for India in many international tournaments. Just to jog the readers’ memory, Sakshi first hit the headlines when she defeated Geeta Phogat in the PWL season 1.
Another major gain of the PWL is the immense help it is generating for the Indian heavyweight wrestlers. “I think one of the biggest gains of the PWL is that the Indian heavyweight wrestlers have gained a lot. The reason for this is that they get to play against some of the top heavyweights like Alvaro Azlan (of Delhi), Georgey Kitov (Marathas), our wrestlers are bound to benefit. Alvaro and Georgey are among the best in the world and when our wrestlers compete against them it helps them immensely,” said another wrestler.
Sunday Guardian now brings you the best Indian wrestlers who have performed exceedingly well in the current edition
Nitin Rathi (UP Dangals)
Nitin Rathi has been the hogging the headlines with his stunning performances. The UP Dangals wrestler has been in the form of his life and has had some stunning wins. Nitin, by far, has been the most promising Indian in the men’s side. He scored one of the biggest upsets of the PWL so far when he bested Andrey Yatsenko (Marathi). The class of Nitin can be gauged from the fact that Andrey is a World Championships bronze medal winner and one of the best in the 57 kg category.
Nitin also defeated some other leading wrestlers like Sharavanan and Utkarsh Khade. While he had a comfortable win over Sarvan and Khade, the only loss Nitin suffered in this tournament has been to the highly rated Sandeep Tomar. In the loss to Tomar, Nitin was tied 8 all before losing it.
Pooja Dhanda (Punjab Royals)
Pooja has been one of the revelations of PWL season 3. The 57 kg category wrestler has had some sterling wins this season. In fact, Pooja scored the upset of the tournament when she defeated the world and Olympic champion Helen Maroulis on the ninth day of the PWL. It’s interesting to know that Punjab paid 10 lakh to get Pooja, Haryana Hammers also spent four and a half times of that amount to get Helen. Her 4-3 win over Helen should go a long way in instilling confidence in the Indian women wrestlers that they can win over the world’s best.
Pooja has also won her bouts against other Indian wrestlers and is one of the major reasons why Punjab are doing so well.
Sakshi Malik (Mumbai Marathi)
The Rio Olympic bronze medalist, Sakshi has been in very good form in PWL 3. Sakshi, the icon player for Mumbai, has won all her bouts so far. She looks much faster and fitter this time around. It will take something very special from her opponents to stop her this time. Her confidence is something seen to be believed.
Vineesh Phogat (UP Dangal)
Vineesh Phogat has the rare distinction of being undefeated in this competition so far. One of her best bouts was when she defeated two-time African champion Maroi Meizien. She has been very impressive in all her bouts.