Singh cannot run for presidency in the WFI but he is so powerful a politician that the wrestlers think he will hold the string his hand-picked puppets will dance on once a few new faces are bunged into the federation.
What’s common between Muhammad Ali, and Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat?
Muhammad Ali earlier known as Cassius Clay threw his Olympic gold into the Ohio river. The latter three have also threatened that they too would do the same – throw their medals in the Ganga river. They say they are fighting the system. Their accusation is that Wrestling Federation of India WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh accused of sexual assault has not been arrested. The three were sitting on a dharna at the Jantar Mantar for over a month before they were displaced.
“The angst’ of these wrestlers and Muhammad Ali is what makes the two stories similar.
Muhammad Ali Olympic won an Olympic medal when he was barely 18 in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
One day when he went to a restaurant and ordered cheeseburgers, his order was refused by the waitress. He was told Blacks were not allowed to eat there.
This sparked a thought in him, that this medal is not good enough.
In his own words he said, “I got so angry I drove down to the Ohio river and stood there and looked at the gold medal.” And moments later, down he flung the medal.
Closer home, Olympic bronze medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and Commonwealth gold winner Vinesh Phogat also drove to Haridwar yesterday to immerse their medals into the Ganga river.
A large number of people assembled at the Har ki Pauri. There were emotional moments with Sakshi, Vinesh and Vinesh’s cousin Sangeeta in tears. Others formed a circle around them.
The wrestlers stood silently for close to half an hour. Subsequently, they sat by the riverbank with medals in hands and they looked glum.
At that time something changed. Some intervention took place and they have now stalled their action. They say they will wait to Wednesday.
It was on Rakesh Tikait’s intervention that wrestlers withdrew their move to immerse the medals. They have now given a five-day ultimatum to the government to sort out their demands. If not, wrestlers Punia, Phogat and Sakshi Malik will do what Muhammad Ali did – throw their medals.