The Sport of Arm Wrestling has been growing tremendously in India and it’s very evident in the state of Maharashtra. Over the last couple of years, numerous Arm Wrestlers from the state have medaled in the National championship. Dr Shrikant Varankar deserves a big credit for the growth of the sport in Maharashtra. Dr Shrikant is currently the General Secretary of Maharashtra Arm Wrestling Association and Senior Vice president of Indian Arm Wrestling Federation. He is also the General Secretary of World Yoga Sports Federation, Asian Strengthlifting Federation, Indian Pole Sports Association. He also serves as the treasurer for World Strengthlifting Federation.
The Sports India Show had the opportunity to chat with Shrikant Varankar to talk about his journey in Arm Wrestling and the steps that should be taken to promote the sport.
1) When did you get started with Arm Wrestling?
I started arm wrestling in 1998. I participated in state-level competitions. I also participated in the National Championship in Odisha in 2000. I continued participating for the next 1-2 years. I have not achieved much as an athlete but as an official, associate, post manager & secretary I have been pushing & developing the sport.
2) You organized an event in Nagpur recently called “Khasdar Krida Mahstav”, can you tell us more about the event? As it was the first event where Nitin Gadkari was the chief guest at an arm wrestling event. Can you shed some light on the process & how important was it for arm wrestling in Maharashtra?
Khasdar Krida Mahstav is a multi-sport grassroot level event. Nitin Gadkari came up with event so that players & athletes would be ready to perform at grassroot level & give them a platform that would be comparable to the ‘Olympics’. That’s why Khasdar Krida serves as a ‘Mini Olympics’ in Nagpur. This event includes 55 sports, but previously did not include Arm Wrestling. We saw the growing potential in the sport and included it in the 5th edition of the event & it received amazing response all-around. Pro Panja League’s founders, Parvin Dabas and Preeti Jhangiani promoted the sport at a mainstream level at the Khasdar Krida Mohstav and popularized the sport among the people.
3) Maharashtra has multiple athletes who have won medals at nation level. What more should be done according to you in which we can spread awareness about the sport on a higher level in the state?
In order to increase the level of the sport, it is important that we recognize the sport for what it is. Players who are passionate about the sport, go on for 1-2 years only to give it up. This does not give players room to grow and secure a good spot in the professional career. Athletes from Maharashtra have this mentality that if they perform at a state/national level, they would get a benefit of job/service etc. Instead, they should focus on honing their physique, earning respect & establishing an identity by playing the sport. By focusing on the right path, players can make a name in this field. We should recognise this sport to the Central Government so that this sport reaches to every part of Maharashtra.
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