Madhya Pradesh became the first state in 1962 to host a National Mallakhamb Championship and in 2013 to identify it as State Sport. Now, as the nation dwells in the fear of pandemic and sport activities are on hold, a Mallakhamb performer makes the state proud winning the National Dronacharya Award.

Mallakhamb is been the traditional sport being practiced by numerous tribes in various states including Maharashtra. The players, however, never thought it could become a sport to compete at higher levels, so said the secretary of Mallakhamb Sangh in Ujjain, Liladhar Kahar, about the long-lost and revived traditional sport of India.

Mallakhamb is an ancient India acrobatics that can practiced on pole, cane or rope. It is a traditional Indian sport in which a gymnast performs feats and poses in concert with a vertical wooden pole or rope. The pole is usually made up of Sheesham, which is Indian Rosewood.

The popularity of the sport kicked initially among the children of the traditional tribal families, who had seen their families doing so. Children were trained Mallakhamb in addition to whatever profession they practiced.

Kahar said the sport has come a long way after entering into the national sight. There are, however, more work to be done to make it as popular as the Japanese or Chinese traditional martial arts have become.

The sport has faced its share of ups and downs. After being introduced to national platform in 1962 starting from Gwalior, the national championships were organized annually till 1976. The GFI for some time removed the sport from its list and no major championship was organized till 1980.

A Mallakhamb player, Rajveer Singh, told Free Press that it were Dr Bamshankar Joshi and some other Mallakhamb enthusiasts at Ujjain who revived the sport and founded an All-India Level Organization named the Mallakhamb Federation of India. Simultaneously, the first All-India National Mallakhamb Championships were organised by the New Sports Association from January 28 to 29, 1981, at Ujjain, The event brought in representatives from all over India, he added.

After Madhya Pradesh declared it as the state sport, more than 20 other states in India have followed suit. There are now 14 Malkhamb centres in the state at Indore, Khargone, Ujjain, Betul, Datia, Panna, Ratlam, Shajapur, Shivpuri, Gwalior, Tikamgarh, Jabalpur, Chhatarpur and Sagar.

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