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Pro Kabaddi League 2017: Anomaly Called Meraj Sheykh

Meraj Sheykh remains one big anomaly in Pro Kabaddi League 2017, the Dabang Delhi skipper is the only non-Indian captain in a sport that is dominated by Indians.

Arjit Dabas | News18 Sports

Updated:September 30, 2017, 1:41 PM IST
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Pro Kabaddi League 2017: Anomaly Called Meraj Sheykh
Dabang Delhi skipper Meraj Sheykh. (Twitter)
New Delhi: Meraj Sheykh remains one big anomaly in Pro Kabaddi League 2017, the Dabang Delhi skipper is the only non-Indian captain in a sport that is dominated by Indians.

India has won all the gold medals in Asian Games as well as all the Kabaddi World Cups so far.

Sheykh hails from Iran, a country which is becoming a force to reckon with in the sport. It has 3 Asian Games silver medals to its name and also gave India a tough fight in the recent 2017 World Cup final.

The sport fascinated Sheykh at a young age and he went on to become a professional player,

“In Iran most people complement Kabaddi with Wrestling, but I wanted to give my all to Kabaddi. The sport might not be as famous as it is India, but it is hugely popular in two districts, Sistan and Gorgan,” Sheykh told News18 Sports while comparing them to Haryana and Punjab – two states with the biggest fan following for the sport.

Leadership comes naturally to the Iranian, as he also leads his national side,

“There are no major issues, everything is fine, if I go into any team I make a lot of friends, even in my previous team – the Telugu titans I was friends with everyone, language can be a problem but I will start learning English soon to overcome that barrier,” Sheykh said, communicating in Persian with the help of his translator.

But he understands and can speak some Hindi and English.

Talking about the popularity of the sport, Sheyk says its important to take it global and organize such leagues internationally.

“The World Cup needs to be held in countries other than India, like this year we had so many teams participating, we need more people to see the sport. Take it to Poland, Australia and introduce it in other nations.”

The Iranian is also in favour of taking Pro Kabaddi international, even to his home country Iran,

“If you see, in the first season Pro Kabaddi wasn’t as big as it is today. But people have started slowly following it, with advertisements its popularity will be huge in Iran, especially in these areas such as Sistan and Gorgan.” Sheykh adds.

Huge hoardings bearing his face and promoting Kabaddi are there all across the national capital, he has managed to become one of the most recognized players in the league and he is grateful for all the affection he gets.

“India always gives me such positive vibes and I feel so energetic coming here to perform, but initially even I was taken aback by the popularity of the sport in this country,” Sheykh says rather honestly, summing up a rather candid conversation.
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