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Mallakhamb: Amazing facts about the age-old sport

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In celebration of the ancient sport, here’s a quick read on Mallakhambh which will give the readers a chance to remember and revisit the age old sport

  • A traditional Indiansport, Mallakamb involves a gymnast performing feats with a vertical wooden pole or rope. The word, Mallakamb, also refers to the pole used in the sport.
  • Mallakhamb or Mallakhamba is derived from malla ormallar meaning a wrestler and khamba or kambam meaning pole. It literally means “wrestling pole” and the term originally referred to a traditional training implement used by wrestlers.
  • The earliest mention of Mallkhamb can be traced back to the 12th Century where it is mentioned in the classic “MANASOLHAS” (1135 A.D.).
  • Though it was said to be practiced in medieval Maharashtra and Hyderabad, Mallakhamb  wasn’t so popular and well recorded until the 18thcentury when it was revived by Balambhatdada Deodhar, the fitness instructor of Peshwa Baji Rao II.
  • Though Deodhar used it as means of staying fit, today Mallakhambh has become more of a performance art rather than a method of training.
  • Over the years several apparatus were tested for Mallakhamb, but for sport, only six are used.
  • On April 9, 2013, Madhya Pradesh declared mallakhamb as the state sport. And today, 20 states have included it among others as a state sport.
  • Founded by Dr Jaydeepsinh Jadhav, following are the official organisations: Mallakhamb Confederation of World, MCW Asian Mallakhamb Federation, AMF  South Asian Mallakhamb Federation, SAMF Mallakhamb Federation USA
  • The Mallakhamb Federation of India is the official Indian National Federation.
  • Competitively there are three main variations of Mallakhamb: Pole or fixed, hanging or rope.

In pole, a vertical wooden pole is fixed to the ground on which athletes perform feats. The pole is made of teak or sheesham wood.

In hanging mallakhamb, the wooden pole is shorter and is hung from chain or hooks and has a gap between the pole and the ground. In the rope variation athletes perform exercises while haning on a rope which is 5.5 mt long and 1 to 2 cm thick. Though mallakhamb has been recognised as a national sport by the Indian government, the sport is yet not a part of Indian Olympic Association’s games list, in spite of the Association also acknowledging the national status of mallakhamb. The Mallakhamb Federation of India is currently fighting for its  inclusion in the Olympics.