After cricket, hockey and badminton, it is time for wrestling to start a professional league of its own. The new league, which has been named the Indian Wrestling League (IWL), will be a six-team affair with the first season slated to start in November this year.
According to IWL bosses, the event will offer Rs 25-crore bonanza in prize money and appearance fees to the wrestlers. “It will be the richest prize money wrestling tournament in the world,” chairman of the IWL executive committee, GS Mander, told TOI.
The former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president said the event will feature six city-based franchise teams in the first year. “Since wrestling is popular both in cities and rural belts, the IWL cities will be Delhi, Mumbai or Pune, Mohali, Hisar, Lucknow and Ranchi or Kolkata,” he said and added that leading corporate houses have already confirmed their support to the league.
He also said that top wrestlers from around the world will compete in the event. “Top Indian wrestlers like Olympic medalists Sushil Kumarand Yogeshwar Dutt besides world championship bronze medal winner Bajrang will be part of the event.”
The wrestlers are likely to get attractive appearance fee as they will be bought through an open auction. Each team will have 18 wrestlers – nine males and nine females – in their ranks, Mander said. He added that a team would be allowed to buy a maximum of four wrestlers. The IWL will witness best of seven bouts between teams.
The tournament will be held under the aegis of WFI and as per the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) rules. Sports marketing and media rights company Sporty Solutionz, the commercial owner of the Indian Badminton League, is the commercial right owner of IWL.
“We may make minor modification in the game to make it more exciting and more TV viewer-friendly. It will have its own glamour quotient to attract more people,” Mander said.