One of India’s greatest athletes and Deaflympics legend mute wrestler Virender Singh, also known as Goonga Pehelwan, has been banned from taking part in the World Championships in Russia. This comes after he spoke against the All India Sports Council of the Deaf for allegedly not paying the due amount to the athletes
The allegations of Virender Singh are centered on the payment, which he and his team-mates were not paid after the Deaflympics in 2017.
Goonga Pehelwan aka Virender Singh the Champion
There have been very few Indian wrestlers as successful and dedicated as the legendary Virender Singh or ‘Goonga Pehelwan’. The deaf and mute wrestler is one of the most celebrated athletes in his category and has won several accolades for the country at the international level.
Virender may not be a household name, but the Arjuna awardee is respected in the same breath as two-time Olympics medallist Sushil Kumar. Till date, Virender Singh has four international medals that include: three gold medals at the Deaflympics (Olympic Games for deaf athletes) and one gold from the Deaf Worlds.
However, his dreams of adding to his medal tally in the upcoming World Deaf Senior Greco-Roman & Freestyle wrestling championship was handed a blow when the national federation – All India Sports Council of the Deaf (AISCD) banned him from participating in the coveted event for speaking against the alleged unfair treatment by the federation.
Goonga Pehelwan, who is one of India’s leading medal contenders for the World Deaf wrestling championship scheduled to be staged in Vladimir Russia from June 11, was barred from participating resulting in a huge uproar in the training camp with his teammates standing in his support.
In solidarity, other participating wrestlers have revolted against the federation and have threatened to boycott the Deaf Worlds. Nine of the participating wrestlers have written to the SAI that none of them will go to the Worlds if Virender’s suspension wasn’t revoked and his name included in the team.
The Road Ahead for Virender Singh
As per a TOI report, Virender raised his voice against the Federation for not paying the athletes their due amount after the Deaflympics in 2017 which led to his sidelining from the upcoming championships. AISCD first issued a show cause notice against the grappler for alleged false allegations before suspending him.
The Sports Ministry headed by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had asked AISCD to uplift the ban on Goonga Pehelwan after his teammates wrote to SAI (Sports Authority of India), that none of them will go to the championships without Virender whose ban was ‘unfair.’
However, the federation insisted they wanted Goonga Pehelwan aka Virender Singh to apologize for the allegations.
Arjuna awardee Vijender Singh hails from India’s wrestling capital of Haryana and is counted in the same league as top wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt. In total, the deaf and mute wrestler has won seven international medals that also includes three Gold medals at the Deaflympics in 2005, 2013 and 2017.