In conversation with Rajiv Tomar, a wrestling coach at Guru Hanuman Akhada, Delhi

Q- What are your major achievements in this profession?

I won ARJUNA AWARD in 2010, RAJIV GANDHI AWARD in 2009 , YASH BHARTI AWARD in 2008, I won the title of ‘RUSTAM- I -HIND’ for about 35 times, which is the biggest title in this field.

Q- Why have you chosen this akhada for your training?

This akhada is very well known in Delhi and even in other states. There are a lot of Arjuna awardees in this akhada. My father suggested me to join this particular akhada. He was posted in the nearest police station and was very inspired with guru ji, that is why I came to this akhada.

Q- What is your family background? Did they support you?

My father was in Delhi Police in Roop Nagar area. My mother is a house wife. My family supports me a lot. They even wanted to train me in the best akhada so that I could be a successful wrestler.

Q- How do you start your day? What is your daily routine?

We all wake up early morning at 4 am. We run towards the Hindu Rao Pahadi. We return by 6 am and have some juice and fruits. Then we start our exercise and warm up by doing sit ups and thigh exercises. We do not have a gym but we have some equipment which are a must here. We practice till 9 am. We eat only two times. There is no concept like lunch and dinner. We eat in the morning and in the evening. We make our own food. We are divided into groups of 4-5 people and make food for ourselves which includes a high protein diet. We drink 2 liters of milk each day. We practice even in the evening for 2 hours.

Q- What kind of championships are there for the wrestlers?

There are 3 types of championships in which our wrestlers take part. They are as follows:
• Sub junior
• Junior
• Senior
If anyone wins a medal in the junior wrestling championship, they surely gets a government job.

Q- What are your income sources?

I am an ASP in Railways. I got a job after winning Arjuna award. There are a lot of jobs for the gold medalist like in CRPF, Delhi police, Punjab police, BSF etc. And if anyone gets another medal, they were promoted from their post.

Q- What are the rules in this akhada?

Discipline is the foremost rule for this akhada. Wrestlers here live like a sandhu, sant.

Q- Have you completed your education?

I have studied till class 12. I was not able to complete my graduation. It is very hard to study while practicing here. We have very long hours of practice, which hampers our studies. Students here come from villages and very poor financial backgrounds, so they are not able to study a lot.

Q- Are there any caste based regulations in this akhada?

No, there are no such things here. There are a lot of wrestlers from Jaat, Gurjar, Yadav backgrounds. Even there are 8 Muslim wrestlers and Sikhs too.

Q- What are some of the important championships for wrestling?

There are a lot of championships for wrestlers like District Level Championship, Mandal Level Championship, State Level Championship, and National Level Championship. There is also an Indian camp for the winners of National Level Championship who came to represent India in foreign tournaments.

Q- What are the most important equipment’s in akhada?

Mat, shoes, and costume. According to World Federation, costume is must for a wrestler.

Q- What is a unique factor which attract wrestlers here?

This is the only akhada in India where kushti takes place in mud. It was a very old form of kushti. People came here from Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan.

Q- What are the upcoming tournaments in which you will participate?

I am planning to participate in Senior National Wrestling Championship which will take place in October 2016 in Gonda U.P. I was also preparing for the Pro-Wrestling League.

Q- Why there is not a single women wrestler here?

Our founder of this akhada guru Hanuman ji was against the wrestling of women. So we never allowed any women in this akhada. And even there is no such space for women here. We have a very small akhada which does not allow us to invite women here.

Q- Do you also agree with the same concept that women should not be allowed in akhada?

No, the situation has changed now. Women wrestlers won many medals in World Wrestling Championships. 3 medals were won by the women wrestlers in the Commonwealth Games.

Q- What are the latest awards you have won?

I have won World Championship in 2015 which took place in Tascan, Afganistan, and silver medal in 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Q- What is the biggest prize money in this field?

5 lakh is the highest prize money for several private and professional tournaments. I have won this 35 times.
In Gurgaon Wrestling Championship the prize money was of 1crore. The winner was MAUSAM KHATRI, who was trained here. I was not able to participate due to my injury.

Q- What are the developments you saw in this profession? What are the upcoming opportunities for the wrestlers?

There is a huge development in this field. After the success of wrestlers in 2008 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, government introduced many opportunities for wrestlers.

Q- Which is the essential person behind your success?

It is only possible through the efforts of my coach MAHA SINGH JI, who gave his 100% efforts. This akhada played a very important role in modifying me. He trained me for 10 hours a day, during my tournaments he taught me everything. He is more than a coach for me.

Q- What are your plans after wrestling?

I wanted to join politics and I will help my coach in this akhada.
This is the last year of me as a professional wrestler.