Thousands of spectators filled the seats at Chukchansi Park to watch wrestlers, slap, evade, and pin each other to ground at the 2016 International Kabaddi Cup in downtown Fresno.
Kabaddi is a sport from ancient northern India that’s a mix of tackle football, Greco-Roman wrestling and the game of tag. Played in a circle, two teams of six players each will slap, evade and pin each other to the ground for points.
Teams are made up of one raider and four stoppers. The raider must penetrate a designated area, where four stoppers linking arms await him.
The raider’s objective is to touch any stopper – if a stopper is touched, that stopper tries to wrestle the raider to the ground before he returns to his court. The raider has 30 seconds to return before he’s out, all the time fighting off the remaining stopper who is trying to bring him down.
It’s the 22nd consecutive year for the Fresno tournament, which started in 1994 at Selma High, according to organizer Paul Sihota.
Since then, the event has been held at Lamonica Stadium, Sunnyside High School and Bulldog Stadium, where crowds of nearly 20,000 people would watch the sport. Last year, about 8,000 turned out when it was first held at Chukchansi Park.
Eight teams and more than 100 athletes competed in the one-day tournament that offered a grand-prize of $14,000 to the best team.
It is put on by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sports Club of Fresno and the Shaheed Udham Singh Sports Club of Selma.