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The future of Kushti, the art of wrestling in red clay and the third national sport in India, is uncertain.

Kolhapur is a city where this sport continues to thrive. Poor village boys as young as ten travel from all over India to join one of the over 30 wrestling clubs in Kolhapur, where they live, eat and sleep together. Just like kids with little scope for education in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro aspire to become a famous football player, they dream of earning glory and big money in the tournaments. Didn’t one of them become the Olympic bronze medalist in Beijing?

But kushti is more than a puritan sport already played by the gods, it is a way of life. Apart from the rigorous training and a strict diet, bachelorhood is a principal feature of these fighters. “Women give problems and take away a lot of energy”, assures 20 year old Vinod from the Kolhapuri club next to the former Maharadja’s Palace.

Times are changing and so is kushti. Presently there is a lot of pressure on these 'akhadas'. Young people in India tend to mirror themselves on Bollywood stars and prefer to “pump iron” in western-style gyms. On the other hand, the social status of women in India is unexampled high and they start to break into areas, which used to be men’s privileges. This, also, applies to kushti wrestling. Since women’s wrestling is gaining momentum Kolhapur is now expanding its tradition with an initiative to set up a training center for girls.