Kohima: Grapplers from various parts of the state took part in the 12th International Hornbill Naga Wrestling Championship 2018 on Tuesday. The indigenous Naga sport was displayed as part of the ongoing Hornbill Festival in Kohima.
Sponsored by the state tourism department, the championship was organised in two categories — ‘professional’ and ‘amateur/tourist’.
While Menuosetuo Yiese emerged as the winner in the ‘professional’ category, Bongtam Phom clinched the other title.
Naga wrestling is a popular indigenous sport which sees participation only by men. The grappling sport involves two people who try to topple each other, prove their strength and claim victory. With a coloured cloth (Pfhephrie) tied around their waist, players avoid falling on the ground.
However, more than just muscle power, Naga wrestling has gained significance for its ‘purity’ and the spirit of brotherhood. In this sport, one’s opponent is called ‘khrietho-u’ which means ‘beloved friend’. The sport is meant to identify one’s strength and aid in the bonding among the players.
In all, 22 men competed in the professional category to claim the top four prizes of Rs 1,00,000; Rs 60,000; Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively. The three constituent units of the Nagaland Wrestling Association (NWA) are Angami Sports Association (ASA), Chakesang Wrestling Association (CWA) and Zeliangrong Wrestling Association (ZWA). On Tuesday, members from these units competed in the professional category.
Men from these three constituents religiously practise this indigenous sport. Ethically, it is a practice in some villages that a man participating in wrestling is not allowed to sleep with his wife three-four months before a match and is expected to follow certain code of conduct.
Their diet is also not compromised as these wrestlers can eat a kilo of meat in a single meal, as there is no weight category in this sport. Their source of strength also comes from repeated training that involves fetching buckets of waters and firewood. Although these ancient practices are somewhat challenged by modern gym equipment, most wrestlers still practise the old way of training.
Although no international tourist participated in the amateur/tourist category, people from Bihar, Chandigarh and Kerala took part in bouts along with natives from the Longleng, Wokha and Tuensang districts of Nagaland.
While the winners in the professional category were Menuosetuo Yiese(ASA), Venuzo Dawhuo (CWA), Kezhavizo Thevo (ASA) and Vetuzo Dawhuo (CWA); the winners in the amateur and tourist category were Bongtam Phom (Longleng), S Mongtsoalam (Tuesang), Thechamo Murry (Wokha) and Sanjeet Kumar (Bihar).