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India – Kushti

Kushti wrestling in Mumbai and Kolhapur, India

Kushti has its origins in Parthia (Persia) dating back to around 1000 BCE. Wrestlers submit to a stringent life codex that prescribes diet, conduct and even religion. In India, Kushti is linked to the monkey god Hanuman, so every Kushti Arkhada (school) has its own Hanuman shrine and wrestlers pray to him before a fight. Kushti is a sport philosophy that is reserved for men only.

Central to a wrestler’s life is his physical condition. Soft drugs such as alcohol, (chewing) tabacco or even coffee and tea are not allowed. Wrestler live off a high-energy diet that is supposed to build up body mass.

The training schedule of a Kushti wrestler starts at around 4 or 5 am with exercises and practice matches. After lunch, wrestlers must sleep until the next training session of the day which starts around 4 pm and may last around two hours. During training sessions, wrestlers work themselves to near exhaustion.

Kushti wrestlers are essentially possessionless – their live for their sport. Their lifestyle is not dissimilar with that of a monk.

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