By Chetan Sharma
New Delhi, May 17 It is not the first-time wrestling trials have witnessed off-mat controversies in India. Supporters of grapplers have on several previous occasions come to blows out of frustration or after no favourable results — remember the 2018 Commonwealth Games trials when fans of Sushil Kumar and Praveen Rana clashed at the IG Stadium.
However, this time, during the 2022 Commonwealth Games trials, fans noticed something unheard-of! A referee was allegedly attacked by a wrestler during a high-profile event. The incident happened at the KD Jadhav hall of the IG stadium here on Tuesday, right in front of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Services’ wrestler Satender Malik alle‘edly ‘s’apped’ referee Jagbir Singh after losing the 125kg final. The Air Force wrestler was leading 3-0 with just 18 seconds left in the deciding bout when Mohit effected a ‘take-down’ move and also pushed Satender out of the mat for another point. However, referee Virender Malik did not award two points to Mohit for the ‘takedown’ move and gave only one point for the pushout.
Mohit then challenged the decision. Senior referee Jagbir Singh looked into the challenge and with the help of TV replays, he ruled that Mohit should be given three points. The score became 3-3 and remained like that till the end, and eventually, Mohit was declared the winner since he had scored the last point of the bout.
Satender lost his cool, walked across to Mat A where Ravi Dahiya and Aman were locked in the 57kg final, went straight to Jagbir, and began to assault him. He slapped him, who lost his balance and fell to the ground.
Several fans, officials, and participants were shocked to witness the scene. The WFI officials then imposed a life-ban on Malik. However, a WFI official told Ajitweekly News that as the number of such incidents are increasing and now that a referee has been attacked, the federation needs to look into these matters seriously.
“It is good that President Sahab imposed a life ban on Malik, but the security of referees needs to be discussed. The message is clear from Brij Bhushan that if any wrestler does any such stupid thing then he or she will face harsh punishment like a life ban. But to avoid these things, WFI needs to sit and discuss a plan so that such’incidents don’t happen in the future. Let’s be practical…you can imagine if a young wrestler hit a middle-aged referee then what consequences can happen,” the official emphasized.
Despite several calls, the WFI president was unavailable to comment on the matter.
J’st to jog readers’ minds, last year in the Tokyo 2020 Olym’ics, Deepak Punia’s foreign coach Murad Gaidarov, a 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medallist, had his accreditation cancelled by the International Olympic Committee after he “physically assaulted” a referee.
At that time, WFI was let off with a warning after it apologised. The world body asked what action WFI had taken against Russia’s Gaidarov and the Indian federation said it had terminated him.
“Wrestling is a sport which teaches you how to remain calm in tough situations. Wrestlers learn this thing from their gurus in akhadas. What happened today is really shameful. After every bout the Indian wrestlers touch the feet of their referees or bow to the jury to sh’w their respect, That’s our culture. Jagbir is a senior referee and has been with Indian wrestling for so long. I guess the coaches now must teach their prodigies to accept defeat when they lose and move on, and train again. A proper psychologist should be appointed and make them mentally strong,” the official added.