Mahendra Gaikwad Kushti Biography
Even though Mahendra Gaikwad was just a boy, his father, Babasaheb Gaikwad, had high hopes for him. The young boy who was born in the village of Shirsi in the Solapur district of southern Maharashtra knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. “He was going to become a wrestler (Usko pehelwan banna tha). We can’t help it. A pehelwan was my father. My brother and I were both wrestlers. “Mahendra is the third wrestler in our family,” says Babasaheb, Mahendra’s father.
The direction of his career as a pehelwani was also planned. While wrestlers in the rest of the world had already switched to synthetic foam mats to try to win an Olympic medal, this part of Maharashtra’s wrestling heartland seemed to be happy with the old ways. All of the wrestlers here fought on pressed earth, also called mitti. Babasaheb thought that the best pehelwans were the ones who didn’t have to worry about their weight. Other wrestlers might have to go through hard weight cuts. The prize for winning was not a medal but Hanuman’s weapon, a golden mace. Hanuman is the god of Indian wrestling.
At the time of writing this article he was 20 years old
Early Life And Career
Mahendra had to wrestle in a mitti circle wearing a loincloth like his grandfather, father, and uncle. Babasaheb anticipated his kid would wrestle in the maidan (competition) during Vetal Yatra, Shirsi’s patron village deity’s festival, in November. If he was good, he could fight maidans around the state. Babasaheb thought his son could wrestle in the Maharashtra Kesari, a state-wide open-weight mitti kushti championship if he was good. “Winning the competition makes you Maharashtra’s best wrestler. he says.
Babasaheb must raise his son’s fame expectations. The 20-year-old took silver in the men’s 125kg freestyle at the World Junior Championships on Wednesday. “Hum soch rahe the Maharashtra Kesari ban sakta hai par yeh toh international nikal gaya. We thought he may become a Maharashtra Kesari, but he became an international sensation. Babasaheb laughs.
The result surprised Babasaheb. India’s first sports event. Mahendra lost 13-2 to Iran’s Masoumi Valadi in the final after defeating two tough opponents, including Turkey’s Adil Misirci, a bronze medalist at the U-23 European championships earlier this year. “We anticipated a bronze medal. Reaching the final is impressive. Mahendra trains at former international wrestler Kaka Pawar’s academy in Pune.
At the 2022 junior worlds in freestyle, India won 6 bronze medals in 57kg, 61kg, 65kg, 70kg, 74kg, and 97kg. However, medals in the highest weight division are unusual, and Mahendra was the first Indian to reach the final in 20 years. (2001 Palwinder Cheema). Heavyweight wrestlers are rare in India. “If you do, they prefer not to compete on the mat,” adds Pawar.
True. Maidan kushti, or dangals in north India, has given super heavyweight fighters greater opportunities than mat wrestling. Mitti kushti pays well for heavyweight wrestlers. One bout earns 2-3 lakh rupees. Pawar asks, “Why train four years for a few opportunities at the Commonwealth, Asian Games, World championships, or Olympic games?”
Mahendra never considered the World Championships. In his village’s Jay Hanuman talim, or akhara, his uncles Kakasaheb and Naganath Gaikwad taught him wrestling. “He trained like us and our father. Babasaheb says he did all the exercises in the mitti.
Mahendra wrestled in local events, although his early performances were unremarkable. His father thinks he transformed when he took him to Kaka Pawar’s Pune academy three years ago. Though maidan kushti still draws tens of thousands, Pawar believes mat wrestling has a place. His Pune academy, “Antarashtriya kushti sankulan (international wrestling centre),” reflects such idea.
Who is Mahendra Gaikwad?
Wrestling runs in the Mahendra family for three generations. Before him, his father Babasaheb (R), his uncles, and his grandparents also competed in wrestling. In point of fact, Mahendra’s uncles, Kakasaheb and Naganath Gaikwad, were the ones who taught him how to do kushti in the beginning.