In the last few years, the popularity of kabaddi in India has risen phenomenally. It isn’t surprising though. The game has all the ingredients to make it a perfect entertainer. When we think of kabaddi, the first name that pops into the head is that of our rugged captain – Ajay Thakur. Aptly called as the best Indian raider and Flying Thakur, Ajay has time and again led the national team to glory. His contribution in his respective Pro-Kabaddi League teams is also phenomenal.
What inspired Ajay to take up kabaddi? Which is his favourite style of attacking? These and many more questions will be answered as we take a sneak-peek into the life story of Ajay Thakur.
Ajay Thakur. Image Source: prokabaddi.com
|Full Name||Ajay Thakur|
|Hometown||Nalagarh, Himachal Pradesh|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.89 m)|
|Age||32 years (01 May 1986)|
|Coach||Baskaran Kasinathan, Balwan Singh|
|Teams||Indian National Kabaddi Team
Bengaluru Bulls ( Seasons 1 & 2)
Puneri Paltan ( Seasons 3 & 4)
Tamil Thalaivas ( Season 5)
Born and brought up in Dabhota village in Himachal Pradesh, Ajay knew his calling was in sports since a young age.
Coming from a sports family, Ajay got the right support and encouragement from the beginning of his career. Initially, Ajay’s father wanted him to study and choose a more secure profession. However, Ajay was never inclined towards that, so he decided to support his son wholeheartedly.
Ajay’s Journey in the Indian National Team
The World Cup-winning kabaddi team! This victory is one of the most special ones for Ajay.
It was at the Asian Indoor Games of 2007 that Ajay won his first international medal. Since then, there has been no one to stop him.
With every tournament, he has proved not only his skills in kabaddi but also leadership skills as a captain. He has led the Indian National Team to glory on multiple occasions. The game has become extremely popular in recent years – all due to players like Ajay Thakur, and this surely is a welcome change. Ajay won another gold at the Asian Indoor Games 2013.
India’s victory at the Asian Games 2014, asserted our dominance in the game. Ajay played a crucial role in the tournament.
2016 World Cup Victory
Ajay Thakur was definitely the star of the 2016 world cup victory. He captured the imagination of the entire nation by scoring a Super 10 in the final against Iran. He believes in leading through his example.
In an exclusive interview after the world cup win, Ajay Thakur told News18, “My coach used to tell us, keep your spirit high and play with all honesty. Kabaddi and the players will get the recognition one day. Now we feel so proud to be part of the world cup winning team and thankful to the nation who showed their love, emotion and so much support to us. I would like to thank the Prime Minister, the Sports Minister and all the stars for congratulating us and following the game.”
At the Kabaddi Masters in Dubai and Asian Kabbadi Championships, India won the tournament titles without losing a single game. Ajay showed immense class and talent in every game.
Unfortunately, the 2018 Asian Games turned out to be a huge disappointment for Ajay and the team. The team entered the games as the favourites. However, they suffered a heartbreaking defeat against Iran and had to come home with a bronze. The defeat turned out to be even more painful, as Ajay got injured during the game. In an interview with IANS, he shared his thoughts on the tournament.
“Losing at the Asian Games was the worst moment of my career as it was under my captaincy. Kabaddi has completely been an Indian game and if such mishappenings take place, it hurts. But today, this game (kabaddi) is not just confined to India. So many countries are playing it and that too, very well. So, now it is not so easy to go and get a medal. The quality of competition is getting better day by day. The game has expanded and today the whole world watches it, as it carries name and fame like other games. No doubt, we feel bad for the loss, but it is good for the growth of the game,” Ajay expressed.
An injured and disappointed Ajay Thakur at the Asian Games 2018 (Source: News18)
The team faced some technical challenges in the game. The mat was not very suitable for raiding. Raiding is Indian team’s biggest strength and Ajay himself is an aggressive raider.
Victories and defeats are a part and parcel of any sport. The most important part is how you analyze your defeats and come back stronger.
Ajay Thakur and Pro-Kabaddi League
Kabaddi champion Ajay Thakur (Source: The Better India)
Ajay Thakur is one of the top scorers in the Pro Kabaddi League as well. In the first two editions, he played for Bengaluru Bulls. In the third year, he was purchased by the franchise, Puneri Paltan. The team reached the last four stage in both editions. In the fifth season, Ajay was bought by the Tamil Thalaivas. He is known as Flying Thakur due to his dangerous raiding style. Ajay is definitely one of the most feared kabaddi players!
Though Pro Kabaddi exposed the techniques of Indian players to foreign players, Ajay doesn’t consider this a drawback. The league has brought kabaddi in the limelight. Today, we can see fans discussing teams, players, and techniques. This level of excitement was only seen for cricket and IPL till a few years back.
This shows Ajay’s commitment and dedication towards the game. He believes in looking at the bigger picture rather than thinking about defeats an shortcomings. He has time and again asserted that PKL is very important for the growth of kabaddi.
Ajay Thakur with his parents (Source: Himnewspost)
Ajay’s father, Chotu Ram, worked in police and is a former wrestler and coach, himself. His mother Rajinder Kaur is a homemaker. The mountainous terrains of Himachal made Ajay strong and sturdy. His stamina also increased by training there. His cousin Rakesh was a part of the national kabaddi team. Seeing Rakesh represent the country, Ajay was tremendously inspired. He decided to pursue a career in kabaddi as well.
Ajay has two siblings, Disha Thakur and Abhinandan Chandel.
Ajay Thakur Net Worth
In season one of the Pro Kabaddi League, Ajay was signed by Bengaluru Bulls for INR 12.20 lakhs. He is one of the highest earning kabaddi players in India. His approximate yearly earnings are 100.5 lakhs. This amount includes his salary and tournament rewards.
Interesting Facts about Ajay Thakur
- Ajay Thakur is well-known as a do or die specialist. He has delivered during tight situations and tough games.
- When Ajay first started playing for the national team, he was very skinny. After being mocked by his teammates he gained almost 12 kgs.
- The best raider in India has many achievements in his name. He was a part of the winning team at the Incheon Asian Games, Dubai Kabaddi Masters, and the World Cup 2016.
- When he was ten years old, Ajay ran from his house to participate in a kabaddi competition.
- Ajay Thakur was selected in the Indian National kabaddi team when he was just 19. From a younger player who was mocked for being too skinny, to leading the side to victory at numerous tournaments, he sure has come a really long way.
- His frog jump and hand touch point style makes him deadly for the opponents. Ajay is definitely one of the swiftest players in the current champions. His height also plays an important part.
- He was honoured with the Himachal Excellence Award in 2014.
- He is currently employed with Air India.
- Ajay is a big fan of boxing and wrestling. If not kabaddi, he would have definitely pursued either of the two.
- His hobbies include listening to music and travelling.
|2014||Incheon, South Korea||Team||Gold|
Asian Kabaddi Championship
Dubai Kabaddi Masters
— Ajay Thakur (@thakurkabaddi) August 19, 2018
*प्रतिभा जाति पर निर्भर नहीं करती. जो परिश्रमी है, वही प्राप्त करता है.* pic.twitter.com/YMQw0wSnac
— Ajay Thakur (@thakurkabaddi) March 12, 2018
Ajay believes that hard work is the real key to success. We couldn’t agree more!
— Ajay Thakur (@thakurkabaddi) December 10, 2017
Fruits of labour! Ajay proudly displaying his medal
Ajay Thakur at the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games 2018
Ajay Thakur proudly kissing his Kabaddi Masters trophy!
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