Jalandhar, October 6
Punjab’s heavyweight grappler Kartar Singh, who enjoyed a highly decorated international wrestling career, is currently keeping himself engaged with promoting wrestling in schools and colleges.
Walking down memory lane
Kartar Singh said he had the penchant for wrestling since his childhood as he was born in the family of wrestlers. “I have been pursuing wrestling since I was in my ninth standard. At the age of 14, I emerged as the district champion,” said Kartar, who then over the years rose through the ranks and made his senior nationals debut at Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1973 in the 58-kg category and subsequently became an invincible figure in the domestic circuit, winning the senior national crown as many as 14 times. Besides, he said he won gold medals in the 1978 Asian Games held in Bangkok and the 1986 Asian Games held in Seoul. He also won a silver medal in the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi and represented India at the Olympic Games in 1980, 1984 and 1988.
Besides, he has been spending time imparting training to the aspiring wrestlers as well organising international wrestling tournaments from time to time, to give exposure to the youth and keep them motivated.
Kartar Singh says after quitting international wrestling, he kept on visiting the mat regularly and went on to win the Veterans’ World Wrestling Competition, a whopping 21 times between 1992 and 2015. Besides, he brought laurels to the nation by winning different titles during the World University, World Wrestling Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Wrestling Championships.
He said a sport was an essential element of learning and it enhances quality of leadership, teamwork, cooperation, hard work and confidence among the youth.
“The lack of motivation actually discourages people from participating in sports activities. Thus, after officially retiring from my wrestling career in 2015, I have been promoting sports particularly wrestling among the school and college-going students by organising regular seminars, lectures and classes to explain to them the importance of sports,” he said.
“Apart from this, being the president of both — Punjab Wrestling Association and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sports and Cultural Club — I have been organising national and international tournaments to give players the platform, where they can showcase their skills and passion for sports,” said Kartar, who has been decorated with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award, Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, and also served as the Director Sports (2002-2007) and Inspector General of Police, Punjab.
He said last year the Wrestling Federation of India gave Punjab the privilege of hosting the national championships and the Punjab Wrestling Association lived up to the expectations of all and it was a successful event. Besides, my sports club (Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sports) and Cultural Club had organised International Wrestling Tournaments, in which around 15 countries participated. “I have organised these tournaments from time to time. The sole purpose of this is to boost the progress of the sport in the state and encourage youngsters to opt for sports,” he said.