HomeSportsKabaddiShankarrao Buwa Salvi: The "Kabaddi Maharshi" of India
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Shankarrao Buwa Salvi: The “Kabaddi Maharshi” of India

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Like a father figure of the sport, Shankarrao Buwa Salvi, was one of the main forces behind spreading kabaddi outside India. ‘Buwa”, as he was affectionately called devoted his life to the game and was also the life president of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India.

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Kabaddi, originated in ancient Tamil region, was included for the first time in the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990. Buwa Salvi helped widen its reach by organising tours to countries like Bangladesh and Japan in the 1970s. Those tours helped in gaining the sport a berth in Asian Games in 1990 at Beijing.

Buwa Salvi – The man behind Merging Hu-Tu-Tu and Kabaddi

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His birthday, 15 July, is observed as Kabaddi Din (“Kabaddi Day”) in Maharashtra.

A persuasive and influential speaker, Buwa Salvi convinced traditionalists in Maharashtra for merging of “hu tu tu” into a standardised version of kabaddi.

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Hu tu tu, a traditional game similar to kabaddi, played in Maharashtra has nine players per side whereas the standard kabaddi is played with seven players per side. Traditionalists had resisted replacement of the word “hu tu tu” with “kabaddi” a word more common in northern India. They had persisted in their resistance even after its acceptance in the southern India states.

After the merger, Salvi took Kabaddi beyond the borders of India, and the game is played in most of the Asian countries.

Buwa Salvi the lobby man

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Buwa Salvi seen here with Former Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar.

Salvi cultivated good relations with the state government and lobbied with chief ministers of Maharashtra, to obtain state patronage for Kabaddi. He didn’t abuse his contacts for personal benefits. When asked by the Chief Minister what he wanted, Salvi even though he lived in a rented house, requested for space for an administrative office for kabaddi.

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Contribution to the field of sports:

Apart from being a legendary Indian Kabaddi player, his total devotion, loyalty and limitless love for the game earned him the title of “Kabaddi Maharshi” or the grand old man of Kabaddi. 

His contribution as the coach and the administrator in Indian Kabaddi is well remembered. As the life president of Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India, he played a major role in spreading Kabaddi beyond the borders of India.

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Buwa Salvi in Japan.
  • 1980 : Organised first Asian Kabaddi Championship tournament.
  • 1981: Organised 2nd Asian Kabaddi Championship Tournament, Dhaka in Bangladesh.
  • 1982: Organised National Kabaddi Championship Tournament at Sangli,Maharashtra.
  • 1990:At the Beijing Asiad ,Kabaddi was introduced. Mr.Salvi attended the Asian Games as the Indian Observer representing Indian Olympic Association.
  • 2000:Organised first international Coach and Referee camp at Pune in which 150 referees from Nepal,Sri Lanka,Malaysia participated.

He was a member of the working committee of the International Kabaddi Federation when the same was created in 2004.

Buwa Salvi before his death had the good fortune of seeing the two World Cup kabaddi events (2004 and 2007) out of three held so far. Third one was held in 2016.

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Shankarrao Buwa Salvi always cherished a dream to see Kabaddi played at the Olympic Games. Though the dream remained unfulfilled during his lifetime, the day is not far-off when his cherished dream would be translated into reality. 

Awards and Honours of Buwa Salvi

  • Received the “Shiv Chhatrapati Rajya Krida Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar“, awarded by Maharashtra for lifetime contribution to sports in 2005.
  • Honoured as “Kabaddi Maharshi” or the grand old man of Kabaddi. 

  • The venue of the 57th Maharashtra State Kabaddi Championship was named after him as “Late Shankarrao Salvi Krida Nagari”.

Kabaddi: Future brighter than the glorious past

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India has won all the Asian Games medals and World Cup titles in the sport till date.

The 1936 Berlin Olympics is best remembered by us Indians for the heroics of our then unstoppable hockey team led by Major Dhyan Chand.

Dhyanchand and his team weren’t the only ones from our country to mesmerize the crowds that year, “The Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal” from Amravati in Maharashtra demonstrated the sport of Kabaddi in front of crowds and introduced the world to kabaddi.

In 1950 All India Kabaddi Federation was formed in Delhi to oversee the development of the game in our country. Within no time, it managed to branch out to other parts of Asia.

The first Asian Kabaddi Championship was held in 1980 and India emerged as champion, beating Bangladesh in the final. The other teams in the tournament were NepalMalaysia, and Japan.

The game was included for the first time in the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990. First edition of Kabaddi World Cup was held in 2004.

Professional sports league: An Enabler

Achievers in the amateur arena have to make do with ‘the medal’, which are handed out to only top ones. Sometimes Governments do pay cash rewards to winners.

The first beneficiary of a professional sports league are the players by way of compensation they get for being the part of league. Leagues also help in popularising the sport.

As the game becomes popular, young professionals flock to a sport and the entire industry surrounding it booms. More equipment sells, more infrastructure is created and more coaches are needed. More schools and colleges organise events. Former players get to become coaches, mentors or commentators.

Pro Kabaddi League

A professional-level Kabaddi league in India  was launched in 2014. From celebrity owners to sport lovers all jam-packed the stadiums, the league had a spectacular start. PKL is the 2nd most viewed sporting event on television after the much popular Indian Premier League (IPL).

History of Kabaddi

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Kabaddi is an age-old sport whose roots can be traced back to Indian mythology. The mention of kabaddi is found in the Hindu mythological epic, ‘The Mahabharata’ and in Buddhist literature which proves that the sport has practised in ancient India.

Kabaddi was originated in ancient Tamil region. The word “kabaddi” was derived from the Tamil word “kai-pidi” meaning “to hold hands”.

From these early times, kabaddi has seeped into the modern India with different names in various regions of the country.

In Tamil Nadu, it is called kabaddi or ‘chedugudu’, ‘kabaddi in Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana. In Punjab, it is called as ‘kaudi’ and ‘hu-do-do’ in the eastern part of the country. In Maharashtra it got popularised as ‘hu-tu-tu’. It is known as ‘hadudu’ in Bangladesh and ‘bhavatik’ in Maldives.

Modern kabaddi, as we know it, is a synthesis of all these forms.

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