'I Quit Wrestling' Says Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat Breaks Down After Brij Bhushan Aide Sanjay Singh Becomes WFI Chief

'I Quit Wrestling' Says Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat Breaks Down After Brij Bhushan Aide Sanjay Singh Becomes WFI Chief

Sanjay Singh, who is a close aide of tainted former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, defeated Anita Sheoran in the elections held on December 21.

Rohan SenUpdated: Thursday, December 21, 2023, 05:39 PM IST
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Vinesh Poghat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik. | (Credits: Twitter)

In the aftermath of Sanjay Kumar Singh's election as the new chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on December 21, renowned wrestler Sakshi Malik has decided to bid farewell to the sport.

Sanjay Singh, a close associate of the controversial former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, secured victory over Anita Sheoran with a decisive 40 votes to 7, marking a significant shift in WFI leadership.

Back to square one for protesting wrestlers

Despite the fervent efforts of leading wrestlers such as Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik to rally against Brij Bhushan, the election results suggest that their protest has been in vain.

The trio, despite aggressively advocating for a change in leadership, failed to garner sufficient support from their wrestling community. Consequently, a close associate of the BJP MP now assumes the leadership position, signaling a setback for the protesting wrestlers.

Sakshi Malik makes shocking decision

Expressing her discontentment with the election results, Sakshi Malik declared her decision to retire from wrestling during a press conference.

She emphasized the hardships endured, stating, "We slept on the roads for 40 days, and people from various parts of the country came to support us. If Brij Bhushan Singh's business partner and close aide assume the WFI presidency, I quit wrestling," Malik told reporters during a press conference in Delhi.

"We have made demands for a woman president. If the president would be a woman, harassment would not happen. But, there was no participation of women earlier and today you can see the list, not even a single woman was given a position. We had fought with complete strength but this fight will continue. The wrestlers of the new generation have to fight," Malik added.

Vinesh Phogat in tears

In a poignant moment, fellow wrestler Vinesh Phogat, along with Malik and Bajrang Punia, addressed reporters. Despite minimal expectations, Phogat expressed hope for justice, lamenting the uncertainty surrounding the future of wrestling.

"It's saddening that the future of wrestling is in the dark. To whom shall we convey our grief?... We are still fighting," she said, tears welling up.

Who is Sanjay Singh?

Sanjay Kumar Singh, affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and hailing from Varanasi, shares a close bond with Brij Bhushan.

Given the outgoing chief's profound interest in the sport, it is anticipated that Singh will consult him in policy decisions.

Initially facing reservations from Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, these concerns were brought to the attention of Sports Minister Anurag Thakur in a meeting earlier this month.

Big win for Brij Bhushan camp

The Brij Bhushan camp, led by Singh, triumphed in 13 out of the 15 posts, including a clean sweep of all four Vice President positions.

The elected Vice Presidents are Jai Prakash from Delhi (37 votes), Asit Kumar Saha from West Bengal (42 votes), Kartar Singh from Punjab (44 votes), and N Phoni from Manipur (38 votes).

Wrestlers vs Brij Bhushan Singh

Numerous prominent Indian wrestlers levelled accusations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan, targeting women wrestlers, including juniors. They successfully garnered substantial support from diverse segments of society.

However, their protest lost momentum on May 28, the day they planned to march towards the new Parliament building. Delhi police intervened and removed all protesters from Jantar Mantar, citing rioting concerns.

The wrestlers officially terminated their protest on June 7 after receiving assurances from Sports Minister Anurag Thakur. He pledged that none of Brij Bhushan's family members or close associates would be permitted to participate in the WFI election.

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