Insights that Echo Beyond the Echo Chamber


Protesting wrestlers “past their prime, don’t want juniors to progress”, says suspended WFI President Sanjay Singh

Sanjay Singh, who was elected as the new Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, speaks to the media regarding the suspension of the newly elected body of the WFI by the Union Sports Ministry, in New Delhi on Sunday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

After the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) formed a three-member committee to handle the day-to-day affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), the newly-elected president of the sport’s governing body Sanjay Singh accused Bajrang Punia and other wrestlers part of the protest of doing politics and said that they were past their prime as players.

The Union Sports Ministry on Sunday suspended the sport’s premier governing body in the country along with all its office-bearers.

At the same time, following its decision, the Ministry instructed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form an ad-hoc committee to manage and control the affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

“These players are past their prime. Like you must have seen with Bajrang Punia, he lost his last match by 10-0. Now they have left wrestling for politics. Rahul Gandhi went to meet them and wrestled with them on the mat. This is not something players do,” Sanjay Singh told ANI.

On Wednesday morning, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi reached Virender Arya Akhara in Chhara village of Jhajjar district and interacted with wrestlers, including Olympian Bajrang Punia.

Mr. Singh said that the veteran wrestlers who have been protesting do not want junior wrestlers to progress and their protest has brought all wrestling activities to a halt.

“They do not want junior players to progress. They are doing politics, meeting one party or the other. This is causing a lot of losses to juniors since trials are not being held. I have been associated with wrestling since 10-12 years. If I have ever disrespected a wrestler, they should bring proof,” said Mr. Singh.

He also questioned the wrestlers about what was his fault that they had started protesting as soon as he was elected president. On wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang returning their awards, he said that it is a personal matter.

“But they should not do so because the money and emotions of our citizens made them the stars they are today,” he added.

On further course of action, Sanjay Singh said that the federation will talk to the government.

“The ex-chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir was the returning officer, there were observers from IOA and United World Wrestling. The elections were done democratically. These elections were non-partisan,” he added.

In light of the recent developments, the IOA announced Bhupinder Singh Bajwa as chairman of the newly created ad-hoc committee to run the day-to-day matters of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) with immediate effect on Wednesday.

IOC’s announcement came after the Union Sports Ministry suspended the entire WFI’s governing council.

The IOA formed the ad hoc committee at the ministry’s request on Wednesday.

Mr. Bajwa will be assisted in running the WFI by MM Somaya and Manjusha Kanwar in the newly constituted ad hoc committee.

India’s wrestling has seen a major shift since the conclusion of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections last week.

Former WFI Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s aide Sanjay Singh was elected as the new president on Thursday, which caused a major disappointment among the wrestlers who were protesting against former WFI head, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.


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