For Pakistani dockworkers in Dubai, kushti is a way of life


DUBAI: Every Friday evening in Dubai´s bustling Deira district, a sandy lot is transformed into the ring of champions. It is kushti wrestling night and Kala Pehlwan is ready to fight.As the sun sinks below towering palm trees, dozens of men — many in tunics, others in T-shirts — begin to form a perfect circle. Most are Pakistani or Indian, from the cross-border region of Punjab, where kushti is a beloved pastime. They are also a pillar of the United Arab Emirates´ workforce. Veteran wrestlers, now referees, pour water over the inner ring to minimise dust.A peanut vendor drags a rickety cart around the circle, tending to the crowd — now three rows deep. “Clink, clink, clink,” ring out wooden cymbals with bells. The wrestlers unabashedly strip down to their underwear, donning yellow, red, or even floral-patterned loincloths. “Kala Pehlwan, son, come to the ring! Suhail, son, come to the ring,” cries out 50-year-old Mohammed Iqbal — a Dubai kushti fixture. Glaring, the opponents swipe one another´s bodies with sand — a reciprocal move to counter sweat. The day´s matches are quick — sometimes under a minute — and hard fought.A foot is trapped between a rival´s legs, a fighter flips over his opponent´s shoulders to escape his grip. One pins his match down on his stomach and throws sand in his face before getting restrained by the referees.Spectators dart into the ring to film fights. Others watch in rapture, breaking out in cheers at decisive moments in the match. The winner is declared when a fighter manages to pin his opponent to the ground on his back. If the fight starts going over 20 minutes, the referees declare a tie.On this evening, Kala Pehlwan finds himself overpowered — and faced with a challenge.”Find me a fighter that can beat …read more

Source:: The News International – Latest news

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