Bajrang Punia became India’s most expensive buy with Delhi franchise signing him for Rs. 38 lakhs. Star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt opted out of Pro Wrestling League season 2 as he decided not to go under the hammer at auction.
Delhi splurged Rs. 47 lakhs on Mariya Stadnik, making her the most expensive women wrestler at the auction, where India ace woman grappler Sakshi Malik bagged only Rs. 30 lakhs.
In fact, Sakshi was pipped by Ritu Phogat, 2016 Commonwealth Championship gold medallist, as the most expensive Indian woman wrestler at Rs. 36 lakhs after being signed by new entrants—Jaipur.
The Phogat sisters—Geeta, Babita, Ritu and Sangeeta— bagged an overall amount of Rs 70 lakh. However, Sakshi was happy despite getting less amount at the auction, as her fiance Satyavart Kadian was also bought by Delhi.
“I am happy to be in the same team as Satyavart,” said Sakshi, who bagged a bronze at the Rio Games, becoming the first Indian women wrestler to win an Olympic medal.
London Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar, who represented the Haryana franchise last year, had earlier itself casted doubts over his participation in the League as his wedding date was clashing with the tournament, scheduled to be held from January 2-19.
“My wedding and wedding related functions are clashing with the League, so I have decided to give this year’s edition of the PWL a miss,” said Yogeshwar.
India’s lone double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar was already not a part of the League and now Yogeshwar’s absence would certainly take sheen off the event.
Among other top buys during the auction were 2016 World champion Magomed Kurbanaliev from Russia for Rs. 47 lakhs and three-time world champion Sofia Mattsson of Sweden for Rs. 41.50 lakhs—both of whom were bought by Haryana.
Mumbai roped in Erica Wiebe and Georgian Jabrayil Hasanov, who won a bronze at the Rio Games Olympics, for Rs. 43 lakhs each, while the Nigerian woman wrestler Odunayo Adekuoroye went to Punjab for Rs. 32 lakhs.
In the closed bid process, over 200 wrestlers were put up for bidding among six franchises—Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab, Jaipur, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana—and renowned auctioneer Bob Hayton conducted the proceedings.
According to the rules, all teams operated with a Rs. 2 crore cap on the purse to form a nine-member squad that should have five men and four women, five Indians and four international wrestlers.