Even as India’s star grappler Yogeshwar Dutt hailed the newly-launched (December 10-27) franchise-based Pro Wrestling League (PWL), the London Olympics bronze medallist felt the timing of the league could have been better.
Yogeshwar Dutt (top) during a promotional shoot for PWL at Goregaon’s Film City yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande
“If they (league’s promoters) would had started this league may be a year or two earlier, it would have benefited the sport in more ways than one. We could have been able to spot and nurture talent for the Olympics. Also, elite athletes could have got ample time to recover if they picked up any serious injury in the league. I am prone to injuries and I am scared of them,” the 33-year-old grappler, who will be part of the Haryana franchise, said on the sidelines of a promotional shoot for PWL at Film City yesterday.
“Having said that, my sport is a contact sport and injuries are bound to happen. I cannot stop wrestling thinking about future injuries. I will give my best in PWL and since the next three Olympic qualifiers are after three months (March, April and June), I will get enough time to recover in case I do get injured at PWL. Though I already have an Olympic medal, it’s my ultimate dream to win gold at the Rio Games,” said Dutt, who will be participating in the Asian Olympic Qualifier to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan from March 18 to 20 next year.
Dutt, however, appreciated the monetary benefit for wrestlers thanks to PWL. “Majority of wrestlers come from poor families or maybe middle-class backgrounds. They find it difficult to sustain themselves in the sport in the long run given the amount of investment required as part of training and diet for wrestlers. Due to shortage of finances, careers of talented wrestlers have been cut short. PWL will help to bridge that gap and inspire upcoming wrestlers to continue in the sport. My life changed after I won medals at the Asiad, Commonwealth Games and Olympics. But there was a time when I used to think twice before buying even the basic things that I needed for the sport,” he said.