After Football, Kabaddi and badminton, it’s time for wrestling

A whopping Rs 3 crore is the prize money being offered at the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) that starts in Delhi on Thursday with Mumbai Garuda – Punjab Royals. In its inaugural year, the PWL is offering Rs. 15 crore including the total prize money. The matches will be held over the next 18 days.

Fifty four wrestlers from 13 countries will duel against each other in the five city-based franchise systems. The matches will be held at Delhi, Ludhiana – Punjab, Noida- UP, Gurgaon-Haryana and Bengaluru.

Each team will have 9 players: 5 Indians, 4 foreign players, 5 men and 4 women. PWL will feature a total of 18 ties — 15 in the league phase, 2 semi-finals and the Grand.

Wrestling Federation of India and ProSportify have come together for PWL. ProSportify was launched by Kartikeya Sharma to ‘ensure a level playing field for Indian sports persons so that their talent can be fine-tuned to international standards’.

Kartikeya Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, and Vishal Gurnani, Director in a tete-e-tete with Firstpost were confident that PWL would emerge as the most successful non-cricket sporting league in India. “In today’s time, sports other than cricket are gaining fast traction – and sports such as football, kabaddi, tennis, badminton are clear indicators of that,” Sharma said.

A case in point is the phenomenal auction of top players in other sports in various non-cricketing events in recent times. In the India Super League 2015 auction, some of the top players became millionaires by the time auction ended. The Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri was bagged by Mumbai City FC for a massive Rs.1.20 crore and Eugeneson Lyngdoh for Rs.1.05 crore. A total of Rs 7.22 crore was spent on the ten players at the auction.

The Pro-Kabaddi League 2 (PKL) did not fare too badly either. The salary cap for each team increased from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1.25 crore. In the 2013 auctions of Indian badminton League, Saina Nehwal went to Hyderabad for $120,000.

The monetary shine acquired by non-cricket sports have enthused advertisers to support them.

PWL has been able to garner some of the best wrestlers in the world as part of its auction. The format of the auction suggests that every team had a marquee player and the bid for each player started at the base price of Rs 30 lakhs, making it the richest wrestling league in the world.

“The first ever auction of wrestlers in India saw the six franchises battle it out for some of the finest players in the world. What followed was an assessment of business skills and a tough fight between the franchises to pick the players of their choice from a gamut of Indian and international wrestlers,” says Sharma.

Oksana Herhel of the Haryana team got the highest bid at Rs 41.30 lakhs — highest in the league and the women’s category, followed by Yogeshwar Dutt of the same team at 39.70 lakhs – highest in the men’s category, Sushil Kumar from the Uttar Pradesh team 38.20 lakhs, Adeline Gray- Mumbai 37 lakhs, Narsingh Yadav- Bangalore 34.50 lakhs and Geeta Phogat- Punjab at 33 lakhs.

Marketing spend has been approximately Rs 18-20 crore. “We have invested into 600,000 seconds of electronic exposure – which is the largest ever for any sport,” informed Sharma.

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