Newly-formed Wrestling Federation of India led by Sanjay Singh suspended by Sports Ministry

BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh with the newly-elected president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Sanjay Singh at the former’s residence, in New Delhi, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The Union Sports Ministry has suspended the Wrestling Federation of India body under the leadership of newly elected president Sanjay Singh.

The Ministry announced its decision in an official release on December 24 citing hasty decisions by the newly elected body and that it has shown complete disregard for the existing rules and regulations.

WFI’s newly elected president Sanjay Singh announced on December 21 that the U-15 and U-20 nationals would take place in Nandini Nagar, Gonda (UP) before the end of this year. Citing the announcement, the Ministry said the announcement was against the the rules and a 15-day notice was required so that players could prepare.

“Haven’t terminated WFI”

“The new body has not followed the WFI constitution. We have not terminated the Federation but suspended till further orders. They just need to follow the due process and the rules,” a Sports Ministry official told PTI.

The source further explained the reasons for suspension.

“Sanjay Kumar Singh, newly-elected president of WFI announced on 21.12.2023, the day he was elected as president, that U-15 and U-20 nationals for Wrestling will take place in Nandini Nagar, Gonda (UP) before the end of this year.

“This announcement is hasty, without giving sufficient notice to wrestlers who are to take part in the said nationals and without following the provisions of the constitution of WFI.

“As per clause 3 (e) of preamble of constitution of WFI, object of the WFI, among others, is to arrange holding of Senior, Junior and Sub Junior National Championships as per UWW Rules at places selected by the Executive Committee,” said the Ministry’s source.

Embroiled in controversies

Sanjay Singh, a loyalist of the outgoing chief of WFI Brij Bhushan Singh, swept the polls and was elected president of the body with his panel winning most of the posts on December 21.

Soon after the elections, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik announced her decision to retire from the sport in a dramatic announcement as she kept her shoes on the table. “We wanted a female president but that did not happen,” a teary-eyed Sakshi said.

Ahead of the elections, Olympic medal-winning grapplers Bajrang Punia and Sakshi had repeatedly requested Sports Minister Anurag Thakur to stop anyone associated with Brij Bhushan from contesting the WFI polls.

Olympic medallist grappler Bajrang Punia on December 22 announced his decision to return his Padma Shri award in protest of the election of Sanjay Singh to the top post of WFI. “I am returning my Padmashree award to the Prime Minister. This is just my letter to say. This is my statement,” read a post shared by the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist wrestler on X, formerly Twitter.

Deaflympics gold medallist Virender Singh Yadav, better known as Goonga Pehlwan also decided to return his Padma Shri to the government on December 23, showing solidarity with the country’s top wrestlers who have objected to Mr. Singh’s election. “I will also return the Padma Shri for my sister and the country’s daughter. Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, I am proud of your daughter and my sister Sakshi Malikkh,” Virender wrote on X.

(With inputs from PTI)

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