Sushil Kumar – The wrestling god of India

8 min read
suvaran-chhatarshal-Kredon -Sushil kumar wrestling

Highlights

  • A young boy from Baprola, Delhi steps into the akhada for the first time at the age of 14. Inspired by his father and cousin, both wrestlers, he has great dreams in his eyes. 
  • The journey is not easy for the humble family, but the support pours from each member. Their sacrifices seem worthwhile, as the boy becomes a champion by winning the gold medal at the World Cadet Games.
  • From here on, there is no stopping him. He conquers one akhada after another and wins not just medals, but also the imagination of the entire nation.
  • Sushil Kumar Solanki is not just a wrestler; he is a phenomenon. Has won awards and recognition at every stage of his career. He has numerous records to his name. He belongs to the elusive club of having two individual Olympic medals to his name.
  • Commonwealth Games, world championships, Asian championships, Asian Games, you name it and Sushil Kumar has won a medal there!
  • The journey has been incredible, with its fair share of difficulties. The gold at the Asian Games has eluded this mighty wrestler and he is all set to change that.

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Indian wrestling champion Sushil Kumar Solanki

From the akhadas of hard work, sweat, and determination, champions are born. Wrestling has blessed India with many great sportsmen. Is it possible to talk to about wrestling champions without mentioning Sushil Kumar? Definitely not! The megastar needs no introduction, but his life story definitely needs to be told. An exciting journey, with numerous challenges and even more rewards, let us explore the story of our own pehelwan…

Quick Facts

  • Name: Sushil Kumar Solanki
  • Date of Birth:  26 May 1983
  • Place of Birth BaprolaDelhi, India
  • Height 166 cm (5 ft 5 in)
  • Weight: 66 kg
  • Education: Graduation (B.P.E.)
    • Post graduation (M.P.E.)
  • Alma mater: Noida College of Physical Education,Dadri
  • Debut: World Cadet Games 1998

 

Family Background

 

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Sushil Kumar with his twin sons – Suvaran and Suveer

Sushil Kumar was born in a humble family from the small village of Baprola, in Delhi. His father, Diwan Singh, earlier worked as a driver in MTNL Delhi and his mother Kamla Devi is a housewife. His father and cousin, Sandeep were both wrestlers and were the reason Sushil got into wrestling. In fact, Sandeep had to stop wrestling, as their family couldn’t financially support two wrestlers in the family.

It isn’t a surprise that Sushil considers both of them his biggest inspirations. He could not have reached the pinnacles of success without the constant financial as well as emotional support of his entire family. His extended family members contributed a lot by sending him tins of ghee, cans of milk, and cooked vegetables during his training. In 2011, Sushil married Savi Kumar. Savi is the daughter of Sushil’s coach Satpal Singh. The lovely couple is blessed with two twin boys.

Sushil’s father
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Sushil Kumar’s mother(2nd from right)

 

Getting engaged to wife Savi

Sushil Kumar Wrestling Training

Sushil started his training at the Chhatrasal Stadium’s akhada at the age of 14. Initially, Yashvir Singh and Ramphal coached him. In this 2012 interview with the Times of India, Sushil says, “Coach saab (Yashvir) has played a big role in my achievements. I have trained with him since 1998 and he is a very good coach.”

Later, Satpal Singh started training the wrestling champion and his future son-in-law. The Arjun-awardee trainer was a major influence on Sushil and played a key role in his development. After Sushil’s phenomenal performance at the Commonwealth Games 2018, the proud coach said, ““Bahut shaandaar kushti lada Sushil (Sushil fought an excellent bout). He surpassed my expectations. He was too good in all aspects – attack, defence, power, technique, everything.”

Gyan Singh and Rajkumar Baisla Gurjar trained him at the Indian Railways camp.


Interesting Facts about Sushil Kumar

  • Sushil Kumar works as an Assistant Commercial Manager in the Indian Railways.
  • He is the first wrestler to be bestowed with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. And was honored with Arjuna Award in 2005 and Padma Shri in 2011.
  • He does not drink or smoke. In fact, he denied an alcohol brand endorsement deal as it would have set a wrong example for his followers.
  • Sushil is also a pure vegetarian and has campaigned for PETA. He also broke the myth that vegetarians cannot be strong wrestlers.
  • Sushil 4 Sports is a charity organization started by him to help aspiring athletes.
  • In 2015, he was a co-judge of the reality show MTV Roadies.
  • The athletes of the 2010 Commonwealth Games voted him as the Most Popular Athlete.
  • Sushil Kumar Solanki is the first and the only person to win two individual Olympic medals for independent India.
  • Lionel Messi is Sushil’s favorite athlete and Amitabh Bachchan is his favorite actor.
  • When on a cheat day, Sushil loves to hog on his favorite food, parathas.
  • He can do as many as 1000 pull-ups in a day!

 

Sushil Kumar Solanki – The Stellar Journey

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Sushil Kumar Training

Beijing Olympics 2008, Beijing, China

  • Sushil participated in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling event at the Beijing Olympics.
  • In the first round, he lost to Andriy Stadnik from Ukraine.
  • The repechage round was his only hope to bring home a medal. He beat Doug Schwab from the United States of America and Albert Batyrov from Belarus in the first and second repechage round respectively.
  • Finally, he defeated Leonid Spiridonove from Kazakhstan to win the bronze medal and simultaneously create history!

World Wrestling Championships 2010, Moscow, Russia

  • Sushil Kumar continued his dominance in the 66 kg freestyle-wrestling category by winning a gold medal. He defeated Alan Gogaev of Russia in the finals.

Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi, India

  • Sushil beat Muhammad Salman from Pakistan in the quarterfinals of the 66 kg freestyle wrestling category.
  • In the semifinals, he literally demolished Gambian wrestler Famara Jariou within 9 seconds!
  • Next, he shattered the dreams of South African Heinrich Barnes and won. The gold medal was finally

London Olympics 2012, London, England

  • The London Olympics was indeed a special event for Sushil as he was the Olympic flag bearer for India at the opening ceremony.

  • He participated in the 74 kg freestyle wrestling event.
  • Sushil defeated Akzhurek Tanatarov from Kazakhstan in the semifinal.
  • Unfortunately, he had to settle for a silver medal after he lost to Japanese wrestler Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu in the finals.
  • However, the second silver at the Olympics was no easy feat and Sushil made history. He is the first Indian to win two individual Olympic medals in independent India.

Commonwealth Games 2014, Glasgow, Scotland

  • Commonwealth Games have become Sushil’s forte; he won the second consecutive gold in 2014. He beat Qamar Abbas from Pakistan in the 74 kg category.

Commonwealth Games 2018, Gold Coast, Australia

  • First, he decimated Canadian Jevon Balfour in the pre-quarterfinals. Then it was the turn of Muhammad Asad Butt from Pakistan to face the wrath of the Indian wrestler.
  • In the semifinals, he defeated Conor Evans from Australia and set the date for the finals.
  • Sushil Kumar defeated South African Johannes Botha in the 74 kg category and made history by winning three consecutive gold medals in the Commonwealth Games.
  • With this feat, the stellar wrestler has another record and three Commonwealth gold medals on his name.

The 2016 Rio Olympics Controversy

Sushil has had a distinguished career in wrestling. There is no competition where he hasn’t won a medal. Perhaps, the only mark on the erstwhile journey is the controversy that took place in 2016. Sushil and Narsingh Yadav were vying for the lone spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics contingent. Due to Sushil’s injuries and the fact that Narsingh had won a bronze medal in the 2015 World Championships, he was selected as India’s representative. Sushil had to legally fight the decision but unfortunately failed.  Things went further south as Narsingh was handed a 4-year ban for doping and the alleged foul play. The controversy further escalated with personal attacks and court cases.

But all this is in the past now and the Asian Games are the next target for the star wrestler.

The Asian Games Enigma

Sushil Kumar is a phenomenal wrestler; there is no doubt about it. He has achieved tremendous success and his trophy cabinet must be literally overflowing! However, just like most champions, Sushil too seems to have an Achilles heel. The Asian Games haven’t really been kind to him.

He only has one bronze medal from the Asian Games 2006 to his name. In the 2010 edition of the games, he had to opt out due to an injury. Again, he did not participate in the Asian Games 2014, as he was preparing for the 2016 Olympics.

So it hasn’t been a pleasant ride at the Asiads. Perhaps, Sushil will want to change that this year. With age catching up on the dynamic wrestler, this might be his only chance to bring the coveted medal home.

 

Achievements

Olympics

YearPlaceEventMedal
2008Beijing66 kg freestyleBronze
2012London66 kg freestyle

 

Commonwealth Championship

YearPlaceEventMedal
2003London60 kg freestyleGold
2005Cape Town66 kg freestyleGold
2005Cape Town66 kg GRBronze
2007London66 kg freestyleGold
2009Jalandhar66 kg freestyleGold
2017Johannesburg74 kg freestyleGold

 

Asian Championships

YearPlaceEventMedal
2003New Delhi60 kg freestyleBronze
2007Bishkek66 kg freestyleSilver
2008Jeju Island66 kg freestyleBronze
2010New Delhi66 kg freestyleGold

 

Commonwealth Games

YearPlaceEventMedal
2010New Delhi66 kg freestyleGold
2014Glasgow74 kg freestyleGold
2018Gold Coast74 kg freestyleGold

 

World Championships

YearPlaceEventMedal
66 kg freestyleGold

 

Asian Games

YearPlaceEventMedal
2006Doha66 kg freestyleBronze

 

Awards

  • Padma Shri – 2011
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
  • Arjuna Award – 2005

 

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A passionate foodie, a versatile writer, and now a sports enthusiast, Mamta is always open to exploring new avenues. She has a vast experience in Web Content Writing, Editing, and Social Media Management. A self-confessed coffee and dark chocolate addict, she believes in following her heart and giving her 100% into everything she does.

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