Team owners battle it out at Pro Wrestling League player auctions
Six franchises for the Pro Wrestling League Season 2, picked their wrestlers to complete their teams for the 2017 competition. The closed bid was held at Hotel Hyatt Regency in Gurgaon with world-renowned auctioneer Bob Hayton leading the proceedings. Despite demonetization, the franchise owners of PWL splurged their wallets to own the desired wrestlers.
With an eye on solidity and consistency over flashier purchases, the six franchises: Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab, Jaipur, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, bid cautiously and sensibly to ensure they had competitive squads going into the second season.
According to the rules all teams operated with a Rs. 2 crores cap on the purse to form a 9-member squad that should have five men and four women, five Indian and four international wrestlers.
Rio Olympics gold medalist Vladimer Khinchegashvili, bought by Punjab franchise, was the top-buy at a price tag of Rs. 48 lakhs. The Georgian grappler bettered his 2012 Olympics silver medal at Rio in the 55-60 kg category. Delhi franchise splurged Rs. 47 lakhs for Mariya Stadnik making her the most expensive women wrestler at the auction today. The 48 kg wrestler won the silver in 2016 and 2012 Olympics with a bronze in 2008 edition.
Bajrang Punia was the most expensive Indian wrestler signed up by Delhi for Rs. 38 Lakhs. Joining him in Delhi is Sakshi Malik, the Indian grappler, who won bronze at Rio Olympics, fetched Rs. 30 lakhs. But Ritu Phogat, 2016 Commonwealth Championship gold medalist became the most expensive Indian women wrestler at Rs. 36 lakhs after being signed by new entrants Jaipur.
Joining Sakshi in Delhi will be her fiancé Satyavart Kadian (97 kg). While the Phogat sisters Babita and Geeta will represent the Uttar Pradesh franchise.
Among other top buys, 2016 world champion Magomed Kurbanaliev from Russia was bought by Haryana franchise, to become the second most expensive men’s wrestler at Rs. 47 lakhs. Mumbai snapped 2016 gold medalist (75 kg) Erica Wiebe for Rs. 43 lakhs making her the second most expensive women wrestler followed by three-time world champion Sofia Mattsson from Sweden who was signed by Haryana at Rs. 41.50 lakhs.
Other notable buys included Nigerian woman wrestler Odunayo Adekuoroye who was bought by Punjab for Rs. 32 lakhs. Mumbai also splurged Rs. 43 lakhs to rope in Jabrayil Hasanov in men’s 74 kg category. The Georgian had won bronze at 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was impressed with the way teams went about buying wrestlers. “Season two auctions have been really balanced and the team owners bid very strategically. It’s exciting to see how juniors emerged as dark horses. I am confident of an action packed season 2 seeing the energy and enthusiasm that the team owners have shown.”
Bollywood legend and co-owner of Punjab team Dharmendra was happy with the team’s balance. “We are happy with the kind of wrestlers we got in our kitty. Vladimer continues to be with us from season one and we are happy we could retain him even at a higher price. In totality I feel we have a great team and hopefully we will become Champions this season.”
Anurag Batra, Chairman of BW Businessworld and owner of Delhi Team said, "The roster of players is spectacular this season making the bidding decision all the more tricky and interesting. We came with a strategy and followed through. Ecstatic to have Sakshi Malik and her fiancé Satyavart Kadian fighting on our side. The heat is certainly on!"
Sunny Katyal from Investors Clinic, the owners of Uttar Pradesh team said, “Its an amazing feeling to be part of PWL. We followed the league in the first season and were quite convinced of coming forward this season. I believe we have bought some of the best in business today like Babita and Geeta. We can't wait or the action to begin.”
Goldie Behl, Co-Owner Haryana team said, “We have been part of the first season so I believe we had a more strategic approach rather than playing in the dark this time. The class and spread of the players was also much more so we have more options to choose from.”
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