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Away from the ring, Naga wrestlers grapple with challenge to stay fit

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By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Dec 11, 2020 11:38 pm
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A file picture of tourists watching an indigenous Naga wrestling match during the last Hornbill festival. On Monday, the government of India relaxed restrictions on foreign tourists to Nagaland.

Menuse-O Max Khieya
Kohima, Dec. 11 (EMN):
With a robust following and support system in place, Naga wrestling is already one of the favourite sports of many Naga communities, even attracting tourists to either watch or participate in the competitions.

Traditionally, in the Naga style wrestling, two male wrestlers grapple with the ultimate aim to pin the opponent down to the ground. Prior to any wrestling competition, the wrestlers undergo days of rigorous training and practice as the game involves intense physical exertions, prowess and tactics.

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, all forms of tournaments and events with huge turnout of crowd have been restricted.

The Nagaland Wrestling Association Championship was last conducted at Khuochiezie ground in Kohima this year from March 10 to the 12th.

In an attempt to learn how they have been keeping themselves fit during the pandemic, especially the lockdown, Eastern Mirror interacted with some wrestlers.

Lorhesüto Sophie, who was crowned champion in this year’s wrestling competition at the 61st annual sports meet of Jakhama, shared that he is not into “heavy exercise” like before as there is no competition being organised at the moment.

With the onset of the dry season, he said that there was not much work to do in the village. However, he said that he plays football and volleyball with friends to keep himself active and maintain a certain level of physical fitness.

The wrestler shared that he was keen on participating at the open Naga wrestling tournament during the early months next year but is not sure whether the competition will be conducted owing to the Covid-19 situation.

Vizovolie Rame (25), champion of Pfüchatsumia Khel wrestling competition in 2019, shared that working out at his own gym from Monday to Saturday has helped him maintain physical fitness even when he was away from the arena.

Due to the pandemic, he shared that he was unable to set up his gym called ‘Spartan Gym’ at P Khel in Kohima village before October.

Stating that the open wrestling competition is barely a couple of months away, Rame said that he has invited fellow wrestlers who has been skipping exercises because of the pandemic to join his gym at the village.

After realising the risk of ‘remaining stagnant’ if the open wrestling is not conducted due to the pandemic, Rame said that he has invited his friends along with other fitness enthusiasts to join the gym, with him as the instructor. “We are catching up,” he said.

Kekhriezo Nagi (29), fourth place holder in the senior category of Angami Sports Association wrestling meet this year, too shared that it has been about three months since he started working out regularly at Ultimate Fitness Gym run by a friend in Sechü-Zubza.

He shared that he follows the gym routine every evening for fitness. He added that he took some time off from following his fitness regime earlier as there were some positive cases of Covid-19 in his village.

‘God willing, I will take part whenever the competitions are organised again,’ he said.

Vekuto Soho (26), the champion of International Hornbill Naga Wrestling Championship in 2019, also shared that he goes to Escalate Gym in Phek town to work out and improve his fitness. He added that he goes to Chisel Bodyworks Gym for the same reason when he comes to Kohima from Phek.

Soho said that he workout at home and does a lot of running every morning to keep himself fit.

“Gym is important but running is a must for me,” the wrestler said.

According to him, gym workout increases strength but running improves flexibility ‘which is a necessity while competing in wrestling’.

“In 2018, my flexibility was okay but this time, I gained weight; I’m trying to lose weight now,” the wrestler said.

Twenty-year-old Zakiebeituo Kire, second position holder at this year’s Northern Angami Sports Association Group-D wrestling championship, informed that since the onset of the pandemic, he had stopped going to gym.

However, he shared that he continues his physical exercises by jogging “before people wakes up” around Lerie, in his colony in Kohima.

He added that he also does warm up at home by skipping, lifting dumbbells or doing push-ups.

Kire, who is pursuing a diploma course in civil engineering at Kheloshe Polytechnic Atoizu, said that despite his online exams, he does not skip his fitness routine, except on Sundays.

He shared that he would do workout at home in the evening before having a healthy diet.

‘If you don’t practice, your body becomes dull. As a wrestler, I have not stopped working even from the time the pandemic swept through our land,’ he said.

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By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Dec 11, 2020 11:38:30 pm