Sushil Kumar calls it ‘jhandi ki kushti’, a phrase often used to describe the blue-riband bouts at the mitti dangals whereas Jassa Patti, one of India’s highly-rated mud wrestler, calls it the ‘bout of the century’. In the streets of New York, though, they simply call it the ‘Super Match’.
On Thursday, USA’s Jordan Burroughs and Frank Chamizo of Cuba will wrestle in an exhibition wrestling match, which will be held on the streets of New York. “It may be an exhibition bout but it is a big one,” Sushil says. “In India, we witness such bouts at mitti dangals but not mat. USA are doing it on the mat and you see the hype around. The young boys in the stadium and even the villages have mobile phone where they can access every social media platform. They are aware of it.”
Burroughs, considered to be the king of 74kg category in freestyle wrestling, and his challenger Chamizo will wrestle at the Beat the Streets Annual Benefit match. It’s rare for an amateur wrestling bout to draw such excitement. But the hype this time resembles a high-profile boxing match, with both wrestlers indulging in plenty of trash-talk, accompanied with social media banter.
An Italian website has compared the bout to the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor match last year. Russia is backing Chamizo, for the obvious reasons, while neutrals aren’t taking any sides yet. The whole world seems to be involved in the bout. The Indians, too, are not untouched by the wrestlemania that is set to unfold. Sushil, a two-time Olympic medallist, has been eagerly waiting for the bout himself. He recently watched some old videos of Chamizo wrestling and thinks that this will be a tough bout for Burroughs, the London Olympic gold-medallist.
“Wrestling is a unpredictable. There is no way I can guess who is going to win but both are top class wrestlers. This will be very close and that is why you see so many people interested in it. Burroughs is a star but not unbeatable. Let’s see what he does,” he says.
The excitement isn’t restricted to mat wrestlers along. Patti, one of India’s best mud wrestlers, is telling his friends and juniors wrestlers to watch the bout.
“I have been waiting for this day. It happens every year but this bout is like once in a century. I have told this to all close friends that they need to watch this bout. Just the hype makes you interested in this. Why should I miss it,” Patti says. “I am backing Chamizo for this one because he is unpredictable. There is no doubt JB is star but he has been there for long. Chamizo may just pull it off,” he adds.
For once, Burroughs is not the clear favourite for a bout. The trash-talk and the hype aside, the bout at Beat the Streets will be one of most testing ones for the American legend. But his wrestling style, which catches the opponent unaware, will be a big challenge for Chamizo, who is regarded as one of the strongest wrestlers defensively.
Narsingh Yadav, who wrestled Burroughs in 2014, says Burroughs has the best counter attack and even the smallest opening means he will score. “He is too good with his counter-attack. The defence is strong and when you attack, he will not let you and before you realise, he will counter. He may not be unbeatable but the most difficult person to wrestle,” Narsingh says. The list of Burroughs challengers is long.
But this time, he is the one who picked Chamizo to wrestle. There is nothing at stake. This is not an Olympic or a World Championship bout.
But reputations are on the line. So much so that Burroughs, during the build-up of this bout, paraphrased pro-wrestling legend Ric Flair, and tweeted: “To be the king, you need to beat the king.”
Flair will be in the audience when Burroughs takes on Chamizo. And the American world champ would like to impress Flair with a win. But he must be aware of what Chamizo replied to his tweet: “I am already the king. I just want your crown.”
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