Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Bottom Line: wrestling smack(ed)down in Dubai

Photo courtesy of Demotix
From 7 Days 6 July 09. This style of wrestling is called kushti also known as Pehlwani and is a South Asian form predominantly found in Pakistan and India as well as in Bangladesh.
Wrestlers who have grappled with their opponents for the past three decades at Deira Fish Market have been banned from holding any more contests.
Municipality officials ordered the amateur wrestlers not to hold any more matches at their traditional venue, despite years of friendly competition at the site.
The sport, which is popular with South Asians living across the UAE, often attracted crowds of 2,000 spectators on Friday afternoons. Dubai Municipality said the activity has finally been stopped as the area is considered a local market and not a gym or sports venue.
“The activity was detected during a tour by our inspectors. There are no fines for this kind of offence, but the activity must not continue there,” said Obaid Ibrahim Mohammed, head of the Markets Section at Dubai Municipality.
News of the ban was greeted with great disappointment by wrestlers and spectators in the emirate.
“We were shocked when municipality officials asked us to stop wrestling. It was the only thing which we used to enjoy for free in Dubai after a week of hard work,” said Pakistani wrestler Yousuf Khan. He said that 1,000 to 2,000 people used to gather to watch the matches every week.
“There used to be loud cheers during the matces. Some people used to even give money to the winners as a thanks for entertaining them. It is an amazing sport and we will miss it dearly,” he said.
“We used to eagerly wait for Fridays to come around so we could take part in the wrestling. Now we have nothing to do except sit in the room and watch movies. The sport promotes a healthy and active life,” he added.
Fellow Pakistani Ali Khan, who has been coming to watch the bouts since moving to Dubai nine months ago, said: “Me and my friends love this sport because men can wrestle hard and then shake hands afterwards and still be friends.”
The wrestling is a traditional sport played in India and Pakistan with one man attempting to overpower the other with their bare hands to prove who is the strongest.

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