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'Pro-wrestling has bright future in India'

 NEW DELHI, Sept 12: Having created waves on the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) circuit in the US, Dalip Singh Rana, better known as “The Great Khali”, is now focused on helping other WWE aspirants from India realise their dreams.

The star wrestler has established an academy in Jalandhar to prepare Indian WWE aspirants for the rigours of the wrestling entertainment circuit in the US and elsewhere – and he is excited with the response. “I have opened an academy in Jalandhar which has around 200-250 students from different states. Initially, I was somewhat apprehensive about the kind of response I will get in India and whether the academy will be successful. I did face some difficulties in the beginning, but now I am confident that pro-wrestling has a bright future in India,” Khali told IANS in an interview.

“We have the highest number of trainees in any pro-wrestling academy in the world. Most academies only have around 15-16 trainees. Most people in pro-wrestling circles abroad are amazed when I tell them that I have more than 200-250 trainees in my academy,” he added.

Encouraged by the response in Punjab, the 44-year-old has now set his sight on tapping talent in Haryana – the Mecca of Indian wrestling. Towards this, Khali’s academy – Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE) – will organise a couple of shows in the state next month.

The first CWE pro wrestling event in Haryana will be held at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon on October 8 while a similar show is to be held in Panipat on October 12. “Haryana is the top state in India as far as wrestling is concerned. I had met the Chief Minister of Haryana (ML Khattar) around a month ago and he had requested me to popularise pro-wrestling in the state. With the kind of wrestling talent available in Haryana, I am sure that the state will produce several WWE stars if the sport becomes popular there,” Khali said.

“Among the trainees in my academy, 35 are ready to become pro-wrestlers. They will take part in these two events along with 16 foreign wrestlers,” he added. “We will conduct many more events such as the one in Haryana as it will give them practice as well as help them to prepare for shows in front of big crowds.”

Born in a family of labourers and daily wage earners in Dhirana village, in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh, Khali faced a lot of adversity during his youth due to his poor financial background. He worked as a labourer before finding a job as a security guard when a senior officer from the Punjab Police spotted him and offered to recruit him and his brother.

Khali eventually shifted base to the Punjab Police centre in Jalandhar where he started to train as a bodybuilder, going on win the Mr. India title twice. – IANS

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