Wrestling hub Chhatrasal Stadium set to cut number of grapplers

- May 10, 2024

Following the thrashing of a wrestling coach by a trainee, the administration is planning to reduce the strength, weeding out those staying without permission

GETTING READY: Wrestlers warm up at the Chhatrasal Stadium ahead of their training session

The number of wrestlers training at the Capital’s Chhatrasal Stadium, known as the hub of wrestling, may be pruned to below 100 from 150 with the administration looking to eject erring wrestlers for indiscipline and violent behaviour off the mat. 

A recent incident where wrestling coach Jaibir Singh Dahiya was allegedly thrashed by a trainee at the stadium, has sparked a fresh debate over wrestlers staying without permission at the stadium. The controversy has raised eyebrows about the overall management of the stadium that is under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Government. 

The latest incident that forced the administration to temporarily stop practice of the erring players has also impacted the training of Paris Olympic Games probables — Aman Sehrawat, Deepak Punia, Sumit Malik and Tokyo Olympic Games silver medalist, Ravi Kumar Dahiya. They too, barring Dahiya who stays outside, were uncertain whether they’ll be allowed to stay there before better sense prevailed and they were allowed to stay and prepare for the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey.

What is more alarming is that the injured wrestling coach, despite suffering head injury according to reports, didn’t file a police complaint.

According to a wrestling coach familiar with the development, the stadium run by Delhi Administration has constituted a panel to ensure non-performers don’t add to numbers at the stadium to spoil the ambience of practice. 

“The weeding out policy was necessitated after the recent incident of a wrestling coach allegedly being thrashed by an errant wrestler at the stadium,” the coach said on the condition of anonymity. 

Manish Jain, Deputy Director (Sports), with the Delhi Administration and posted at the Chhatrasal Stadium was reluctant to throw light on the issue of a panel being set up to prune the number of wrestlers staying within the premises of the stadium to less than 100. 

The players to exit the stadium are expected to be those who haven’t performed up to expectations in the last one year. 

“I’m not aware of any panel. I don’t know if the number of wrestlers attending coaching at the Chhatrasal Stadium will be pruned in future,” Jain said. 

Tokyo Olympic Games silver medalist in men’s freestyle event in 57kg, Ravi Dahiya, is one of the members of the panel. He is also posted at the stadium but doesn’t attend office as he is practicing for the Paris Olympic Games.

Not for the first time

This is the second time Chhatrasal Stadium has come into spotlight for wrong reason. Way back in 2021, India’s double Olympic Games medallist, Sushil Kumar allegedly assaulted a junior wrestler — Sagar Dhankar — within the premises of the stadium. 

Dhankar later succumbed to injuries and Sushil Kumar, who was Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and posted at the Stadium, was arrested and sent to Tihar jail. 

After the arrest of Sushil Kumar, the Delhi Education Department planned to close down wrestling activities at the Chhatrasal Stadium. Parents were even reluctant to send their children for practice. 

Besides wrestling, the stadium also has facilities for track and field, basketball and indoor games. 

Wrestling coaches posted at the stadium, however, managed to revive wrestling activities and Ravi Dahiya winning silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games proved to be a decisive factor in the revival of wrestling at the venue.  

Elite wrestlers

The Delhi Administration has questioned the entry of several wrestlers staying at the stadium without official permission and have asked them to vacate the accommodation. 

The elite wrestlers preparing for the upcoming World Qualification Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey from May 9 to 12, however, were allowed to practice and stay at the stadium which has good facilities, including indoor hall and multi gym. 

The 14-member national team, including two female freestyle wrestlers, left for the Olympic qualifier on May 6, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) official told Patriot

At the Asian Qualification Tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan held between April 19 to 21, none of the Indian male freestyle wrestlers, including Aman Sehrawat who practices at the Chhatrasal Stadium, could win an Olympic quota place in their respective weight categories.

There were six quota places up for grab in the men’s freestyle and equal number of Olympic quota places in the men’s Greco Roman category in Bishkek.

However, of the six Olympic quota places up for grabs in the women’s freestyle event at the Asian qualification tournament, India won four quota places. 

The World Qualification Tournament in Istanbul from May 9 to 12, will be more challenging as there will be only three quota places in each of the weight categories and is the last of the qualifiers. 


Currently Lalit Kumar, Dronacharya Awardee in wrestling, is the Head Coach at Chhatrasal Stadium. There are four assistant coaches. All of them are employees of the Delhi Government. 

Several elite wrestlers have been allotted a single room accommodation at the stadium on the recommendation of Kumar. 

“Wrestlers also have training partners who do small errands for their seniors and stay without the permission of the officials,” one of the wrestlers at the stadium said. 

“Some of the players don’t have patience and are indisciplined off the mat which precipitates crises during crunch situations.”   

Education system

Kirpa Shankar, a former international wrestler and Arjuna Awardee, is of the view that wrestlers in their formative age should be apprised of social manners through regular classes after practice. 

HIGH-STANDARD: The well-stocked multi gym is one of the reasons why best wrestlers pick Chhatrasal Stadium for practice

“The focus is on winning medals and not on a holistic approach to make them (wrestlers) good citizens,” the Arjuna Awardee said. 

“Lack of education system during the developmental stage is one of the major reasons for several sportspersons losing focus and becoming indisciplined.”

Lalit Kumar, the Head Coach, though did not respond to repeated calls.