In order to popularise wrestling, the National federation on Friday announced its plan to launch the Indian Wrestling League (IWL) early next year.

The IWL, jointly conceived by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and Leisure Sports Management (LSM), is based on the format of the popular cricket extravaganza Indian Premier League (IPL) and aims at attracting more youngsters to wrestling.

It will start with six city-based franchises. “The IWL will be held in January and February next year. It will take the sport to the next level,” said IWL commissioner and chairman G.S. Mander at a function here.

The franchises are likely to be based at Sonepat, Pune, Ludhiana/Patiala, Delhi, Nandini Nagar (Gonda, U.P.) and Patna. Each team, having some star wrestlers from India and abroad, will play 10 home-and-away matches.

“There will be seven weight categories in male and female wrestling. Each team will have seven male and female wrestlers. Two from each section will be foreigners,” said Mander.

“The rules will be slightly modified. This will help a large number of Indian wrestlers earn good money. In the next year, it will catch up and make wrestling a worthwhile career.”

For wrestling fans, the IWL will provide 30 outdoor floodlit bouts, victory laps on elephants and other entertainment programmes.

Besides, the WFI announced that it would host the Asian wrestling championship in Delhi from April 18-22 next year.

On the occasion, the WFI honoured Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt with cash awards of Rs. 7 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh respectively. It also gave away Rs. 1 lakh each to other London-return wrestlers, Narsingh Yadav, Amit Kumar and Geeta Phogat.

All the coaches associated with the training of the Indian wrestlers received Rs. 25,000 each.

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the federation was keen on preparing up and coming wrestlers for tougher tests ahead. “The Olympic medals have brought a new-found belief among the wrestlers. I am sure, if we work on this, India can return with even better results in the next Olympics,” he said.

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