The suburb of Bhosari, which keeps hogging limelight for incidents of murders and gang wars, is in the news again these days, but this time for a different reason. For two weeks, the suburb hosted a district-level kabaddi and a state-level wrestling competitions that have drawn attention from across Maharashtra. On each day of the contests, a sea of humanity turned up to cheer the participants, making it what local residents called a spectacular show.
It all began on November 24 when Bhosari suddenly sprang to life as the district-level kabaddi competition started on a crackling note with youngsters from several villages and suburbs of Pune district putting their skills on display, much to the delight of the crowd. As many as 72 boys’ teams and 30 girls’ teams had descended on Bhosari for four-day contests. “The way the youngsters played in each match was simply seen to be believed,” said Raju Mote, a resident of Bhosari who rushed to watch the matches as soon as he returned from his Tata Motors office where he works.
After the kabaddi contests got over, the much-awaited wrestling competition, Maharashtra Kesari, took off amid enthusiasm and boisterous scenes, generally reserved for bullock cart races in Bhosari. But with the races running into controversies, Bhosari’s enthusiasm had been dampened — only to be resurrected by the kabaddi and wrestling competitions organised by the Mahesh Landge Sports Foundation.
Old-timers recalled that wrestling used to be the only sport that was played in every nook and corner of Bhosari four to five decades ago. Like Kolhapur, which is famous for its wrestling “akhadas”, Bhosari was known for its wrestling heroes. “But these days quarrels between youths, wielding choppers and swords, have become common on Bhosari’s terrain. I hope events like this will turn things around for Bhosari,” said Krishna Marale, a resident of Dighi.
The four-day wrestling competition, which began on December 1, witnessed a crowd of over around 70,000 drawn from across Pune and other parts of Maharashtra on each day of the event. “The sheer numbers that turned out on each day was much more than the 40,000 capacity of Gahunje stadium which hosts IPL matches,” said Prakash Landge, who works with PMPML.
“On the last day, the number was much bigger. In all, over 3 lakh people turned up to witness the wrestling contests on the four days,” said Kartik Landge, brother of corporator Mahesh Landge, the brain