Smritimay Das: The Armwrestling Pioneer of Bengal who won 5 National title and 7 State Championship

Smritimay Das: West Bengal Armwrestling Pioneer

Smritimay Das is a pioneer in the Indian Armwrestling Scene. He has been a part of the sport of Armwrestling ever since it began in India. Armwrestling started in India in 1977 and Smritmay Das has competed from 1979. Smritmay Das is currently the General Secretary of the West Bengal Armwrestling Association. He participated in his first ever national in 1981 which took place in Ernakulum and won his first national title in 1985. He has also won seven West Bengal State Armwrestling championship.

The had the opportunity to chat with Smritimay Das to talk about hus illustrious career and also how the sport has grown in India since it’s inception in 1977.

How long have you been associated with Arm Wrestling?

“Arm Wrestling began in 1977 in India. It is very proud for us that a Bengali, Barij Baran Das, started the sport in West Bengal as well as India. I started playing the sport in 1979. Then I started competing in the National Championship in 1981 that took place in Ernakulam, Kochi. I’ve won the National Champion five times. I won the first National Championship in 1985.”

What improvements have you seen in Arm wrestling since the arrival of Pro Panja League? 

“The improvements only began 3-4 years back. Since 1977, we haven’t got any assistance from the Govt. but with Pro Panja League starting in 2020, the sport has received the spotlight that it deserved. It also got commercial attention with the beginning of the Pro Panja League.” 

What are the steps West Bengal is taking to make a mark on India and the World?

“The Arm Wrestling scene had been struggling in West Bengal before 2019. The pandemic also hampered the momentum. Prior to 2017-18, we used to hold 3-4 competitions in a year, but now we are able to hold 10-12 competitions in a year. Pro Panja League helped to make the sport popular and familiar. Now, the sponsors are also eager to get involved in the competitions. Like we have competed in The Fit Expo 2017 and 2019. This year Habbit Sports Festival took place in Baranagar which was a massive competition. The event is also heavily promoted and it featured Arm Wrestling as a category. The owner of the Habbit Sports, Mr. Jayanta Guha had asked if we are associated with the Pro Panja League. I replied, ‘Yes, we are.’ Then Arm Wrestling was included in the event. Mr. Gagan Sachdev, owner of Bodyline Sports is also associated with us. This year Fit Expo will also take place in December where Arm Wrestling is also included.” 

What more should be done to promote the sport of Arm Wrestling in India?

“Actually, the sport has received a lot of popularity recently. The sport has been associated with Police Games. I’ve heard it will be associated with Defense as well. In some of the states, the Sports Council has also approved the sport. We have submitted our application in the Sports Council and Bengal Olympic Council. We are now waiting for their call. We are also hoping some assistance from the Govt. 26-28 states participate in the National stage but the approval of the Sports Council is yet to be done by them.” 

Do you have any message to the aspiring Arm Wrestlers from West Bengal?

“The sport is progressing well, especially with the formation of Pro Panja League. The athletes are also getting paid with a yearly contract. Recently, Sood Classic also took place. I hope more big competitions are held and more athletes participate in the future. This will help them to get opportunities for jobs. New athletes are also coming into the sport. If these opportunities are provided by West Bengal Govt. or any other state then the sport can make more progress and reach a better position.”  

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