Bajrang Punia bags gold at Ali Aliev wrestling tournament

Kapiisk: World number one Bajrang Punia has become the first Indian to win gold at the Ali Aliev wrestling tournament after defeating Viktor Rassadin of Russia in the 65 kg freestyle in Kapiisk.

Bajrang, who won the Asian Championships in China last week, came through stiff resistance from a host of local favourites over two days to prove his credentials as the world’s best wrestler in his category. With the win on Thursday, the Indian has cemented his place on the top in the world rankings and is currently the highest ranked freestyle Asian wrestler in the world.

“I think the fact that I am competing in three different continents in three weeks is itself an incredible feat and I am thankful for all the support I have received through this period. I did have the belief that I could do well in these competitions and am pleased with my performances so far,” Bajrang said.

“I am now looking forward to participating at Madison Square Garden and will continue to do my best to live up to the nation’s expectations in the tournaments to come,” he said.

Bajrang, who is part of the JSW Sports Excellence Program, will now get on the road once again as he heads to New York for the Beat The Streets ‘Grapple At the Garden’ on May 6 at the historic Madison Square Garden arena.

The Indian wrestler will take on former cadet world champion and two-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis.