Wrestling World Championship: Who are India's most successful wrestlers at the elite event?

Sushil Kumar is the only Indian wrestler to win a gold medal at the World Championship

By Olympic Channel Writer

The 2021 World Wrestling Championships are currently being held at the Nye Jordal Amfi in Oslo, Norway. It is the first major wrestling tournament after the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. However, six of the seven wrestlers who went to the Olympics have pulled out of the competition. Hence, all eyes will be on Anshu Malik and whether she can clinch a podium finish.

While Bajrang Punia, Sonam Malik, Deepak Punia, and Seema Bisla are still recovering from injuries, Olympic silver-medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya has decided not to participate due to lack of practice. Meanwhile, Vinesh Phogat could not get selected after she fell ill during the selection trials.

Anshu Malik has got a tricky draw as he is likely to go up against 2020 Asian Championship silver medallist Davaachimeg Erkhembayar of Mongolia.

In the history of this competition, India have won 18 medals so far. Out of the 18, there has been only one gold, four silver, and the rest are bronze Its most productive edition happened to be in 2019 when they bagged five medals. Let us take a look at the most successful Indian wrestlers in this competition.

Sushil Kumar (Gold, 2010)

September 12, 2010, will forever remain etched in the history of Indian wrestling. On that day, Sushil Kumar became the first Indian to win gold in the World Championships. In the semifinals, he won by a whisker against Azerbaijan's Jabrayil Hasanov as the score read 4-3.

That helped him set up a summit clash against local favourite Alan Gogaev of Russia. Kumar earned two quick points and won the first round 2-1, whereas, in the second the Indian grappler defended well enough to secure the title in the 66kg category by a scoreline of 3-1.

Bajrang Punia (1 Silver & 2 Bronze)

The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist is the only Indian to win multiple medals at the wrestling World Championships.

He won his first medal in 2013 when he defeated Enkhsaikhany Nyam-Ochir of Mongolia in the bronze medal playoff match.

In 2018, he reached the finals and went up against Japan's Takuto Otoguro. He started on the backfoot as his opponent picked up five successive points in no time. He came strongly and at one point the deficit was just one. However, Otoguro continued to attack Punia's leg and the Indian had no answer to it. He lost the match 16-9.

In 2019, he won his third World Championship medal when he defeated Tulga Tumur Ochir with a narrow 8-7 win.

Bishambar Singh (Silver, 1967)

When Bishambar Singh won silver at the World Championship it was only India's second medal at the prestigious event after Udey Chand's bronze in 1961.

He went into the tournament in a rich vein of form, having won gold at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze in the Asian Games in the previous year. He had little trouble in reaching the finals of the World Championship in the 57kg weight category but faced Russian legend Ali Aliev in the gold medal match.

Aliev proved to be too strong for him and he had to settle with a silver.

Amit Kumar Dahiya (SIlver, 2013)

Amit Kumar Dahiya was the favourite to win gold in the 55kg category.

At just 18, he qualified for the London Olympics and he was being termed as the would-be flag-bearer of Indian wrestling post the Sushil Kumar era. In the first round, he breezed past Yasuhiro Inaba of Japan 10-2. In the successive rounds, he continued his dominance and reached the final by defeating Turkey's Sezar Akgul 8-0 in the semi-finals.

In the final, he went up against Iran's Rahimi Hassan but lost a closely fought contest by 2-1 points.

Deepak Punia (Silver, 2019)

Deepak Punia started on shaky grounds in the first round against Kazhakstan's Adilet Davlumbayev.

The Kazakh raced to a 5-0 win, but the Indian showed his composure to come back from behind and win the fight 8-6. He went from strength to strength in the competition and won over Colombia's Carlos Arturo Mendez and Swiss wrestler Stefan Reichmuth. Although he won the semifinal bout against Reichmuth, it came at a price.

After the match, he was seen limping in his left foot and had a swollen right eye. He could not recover in time for the final and had to withdraw from the gold-medal bout.

Here are all the bronze medal winners from India at the Wrestling World Championship:

2019 Ravi Kumar Dahiya Men's FS 57 Kg

2019 Rahul Aware Men's FS 61 Kg

2019 Vinesh Phogat Women's FS 53 Kg

2015 Narsingh Pancham Yadav Men’s FS 74 Kg

2018 Pooja Dhanda Women’s FS 57 Kg

2013 Sandeep Tulsi Yadav Men’s GR 66 Kg

2013 Bajrang Punia Men’s FS 60 Kg

2012 Geeta Phoga Women’s FS 55 Kg

2012 Babita Kumari Women’s FS 51 Kg

2009 Ramesh Kumar Men’s FS 74 Kg

2006 Alka Tomar Women’s FS 59 Kg

1961 Udey Chand Men’s FS 67 Kg