Bout or brawl? Parveen Rana set for Sushil Kumar rematch

Parveen Rana-Sushil Kumar fracas couldn’t have come at a better time for the PWL, which begins its third edition on Tuesday.

In the scripted, oft-derided world of professional wrestling, there are narratives which have worked for decades. A blue-collar prospect with a chip on his shoulder and a veteran champion refusing to go away face off in a heated contest, followed by a big brawl involving chairs. Throw in an ailing mother, an injured brother, bite marks and police complaints and you have a rematch worthy of headlining WrestleMania. Or, in this case, the aptly-named Pro Wrestling League (Amateur Wrestling League doesn’t have the same ring to it).

Ugly as it was, the Parveen Rana-Sushil Kumar fracas couldn’t have come at a better time for the PWL, which begins its third edition on Tuesday. While last year the tournament rode on the success of Aamir Khan’s Dangal, the real-life ‘Dangal’ that took place in the corridors of the Indira Gandhi Stadium last month makes for an intriguing story, likely to unfold on January 21, when Sushil’s Delhi Sultans will take on Rana’s Veer Marathas. Although he refuses to call it a “do-or-die clash”, Rana knows the stakes are high. “People are calling me overconfident for wanting to take him on,” Rana said on the sidelines of a PWL event. “Agar wo mujhse achche hai, to ek baar fir hara denge. I’ll accept that he is a better wrestler. If I defeat him, everything will be clear.” The situation in the build-up has been anything but clear. After losing a contentious bout to Sushil during the Commonwealth Games trials, Rana and his brother were attacked by a group of men whom he identifies as Sushil’s supporters, accusing the double Olympic medallist of “personally instigating” the brawl.

“Jaise hi hum bahar nikle, Sushil bola ‘ye raha zara dekho isko, iska karo hisaab‘. After saying that, he went and sat in a room. My brother shielded me and was hit on the head with a chair. He went for an MRI scan and still has to take painkillers to sleep,” Rana says. “I recognise the attackers because they work in Outer Delhi toll booths which are under Sushil. I’m worried about going to my village because I have to cross two such toll booths every time.”

Before the brawl was the bout itself, which saw Sushil accuse Rana of biting his arm, slapping him across the face and trying to trip him during the bout. Rana’s explanation, however, makes it appear that getting bit was part of Sushil’s plan. “There’s a move in wrestling, called ‘kheme daon‘ (a headlock), in which the arm slides against the opponent’s mouth. He kept trying that because he was getting tired, and if you bleed, you get a break. I kept yelling to the referee but Sushil got four breaks to rest.”

The 2008 Youth CWG gold medallist has been out for revenge since that fateful December afternoon. He filed an FIR and a complaint to the Wrestling Federation of India. He dedicated the upcoming bout to his cancer-stricken mother and has rallied fans to support him. Rana’s official Facebook page has 8,200 likes. A two-week-old page called ‘Support Parveen Rana. Save wrestling’ has 9,400.

“Seniors like Sushil stay away from wrestling for 3-4 years and return for the CWG. I don’t know how much of it is for the country and how much for the money,” said Rana. “If you want to represent India, why not go for Asian Games and World Championships? They are taking away chances from middle-class, upcoming wrestlers. The brawl doesn’t represent Indian wrestling. I’ve had close bouts with Narsingh but nothing like this has happened.”

Perhaps sensing the novelty and the occasion, the Veer Marathas owners chose to bring in Dalip Singh Rana, better known as The Great Khali, to attend the event, even though the former WWE Heavyweight champion himself admitted: “Ye mat waali kushti toh maine bilkul nahi kari hai.” The 7’1” pro wrestler, however, was largely overshadowed by the other Rana in the room. As it stands, there’s more interest in Rana’s bout on January 21 than there has ever been for a Khali fight. Inadvertent or not, Pro Wrestling League is living up to its name.

The PWL offers a repeat of Parveen-Sushil fight, apart from several other contests.

Sushil Kumar (Delhi Sultans)
vs Tsabolov (Hammers) on Jan 12
vs Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (UP Dangal) on Jan 15
vs (in picture) Parveen Rana (Veer Maratha) on Jan 21

Vinesh Phogat (UP Dangal)
vs Ritu (Veer Maratha) on Jan 19
vs Sun Yanan (Haryana) on Jan 21

Sakshi Malik (Mumbai )
vs Geeta (UP Dangal) on Jan 13
vs Sarita Mor (Haryana) on Jan 20


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