Pro Panja League: Exclusive interview with IAF president Hashim Reza Zabeth

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The inaugural Pro Panja League is set to take place at the Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi on 29th February 2020.

The best arm wrestlers in India are going to take part in this tournament. Arm Wrestlers from every nook and corner of the country will touchdown in the national capital for the prestigious Pro Panja League.

The registrations for this event is ongoing and can be done here. On spot, registrations for the tournament can be done on 28th February at the venue. The tournament will begin at 4:30 pm and the entry for the event is free.


Ahead of the tournament, Sports India Show had the opportunity to chat with Mr Hashim Reza Zabeth, President of the Indian Arm Wrestling Federation.


1) Arm wrestling is something all of us have tried in our lives. But what differentiates a normal person trying it to the professional athletes in the sport?

Arm Wrestling makes you fit and strong and the sport is growing. The sport is getting affiliated with organisations like GISF, which is the mother body of the International Olympic Association.

Arm Wrestling is coming to the World University Games, World Military Games and from this year it may come into school games as well in India.

2) Pro Panja League is approaching and you are in partnership with Swen Entertainment to organize it. What are your thoughts on the tournament?

We are very happy to associate with Swen Entertainment, Mr Parvin Dabas and Ms Preeti Jhangiani. It will be a great promotion for the sport of Arm Wrestling and the sport will be elevated to a whole another level in India.

3) Do you think PPL can be a success like IPL, PKL and other similar tournaments?

100%…100%…I am very much sure that if it comes on a channel, people will enjoy it very much. First of all, it is a power game and we can see the results within a second or minute. This game can be played by people of any age group…be it 10 or 60..people will 100% like this game.

4) The Qualification Round will be held on 29th Feb in Delhi – can you please explain the format and how many people you are expecting to take part?

We are expecting around 200 arm wrestlers in this Pro Panja League. We have six weight category, two weight category for women and one open category for disabled. This is a ranking tournament.

Arm wrestlers have to compete two times and if they lose twice then they’re out of the game. When it comes to the finals, there will be a best of three, where whoever wins two times is the winner.

5) Do you think arm-wrestling should get more recognition in India as a legitimate sport and how do you think PPL can help with that?

I absolutely believe it. Arm Wrestling game is very very powerful and very famous. I am very much sure that everybody has played this game. Be it in schools or college or office, I am sure people have tried this sport.

It was introduced in India in 1977. We are the founding member of the World Arm Wrestling foundation as well. Indian arm wrestling foundation was founded in 1977 and since then we are conducting state and national arm wrestling championship for the last 44 years.

A league like PPL can definitely help in promoting Arm Wrestling and will attract more and more people to this sport. Most of the people don’t know that arm wrestling is a professional sport. Like National arm wrestling championship, there are Asian Arm Wrestling Championship and World Arm Wrestling Championship and most people in India don’t know about it.

So PPL can help spread the word of Arm Wrestling to a wider audience in India.

6) Right now no Indian has won a world championship in arm wrestling, how soon do you think we will be able to change that?

Actually Indian Arm Wrestlers used to medal in the early 1980s, but after that, they didn’t win. But in the disabled category, they got gold medal also, the silver medal also in the world Arm Wrestling Championship and in the Paralympics, the arm wrestling game is affiliated as well.

7) Do you think we will see Arm Wrestling at the Olympics anytime soon?

We are working on it. We are hoping to get it soon.


Pro Panja League Ranking Tournament takes place at Thyagaraj Stadium New Delhi Feb29th 2020 4:30-7 pm. Be there!


Pro Panja League 2020 Athlete profile: Asker Ali