An ancient Sport from North India

On May 6, 2012 Rizzuto Park held a truly fascinating event- A One Day Kabaddi Tournament.

So what exactly is Kabaddi? As a spectator, it may appear to be hybrid between Rubgy and Wrestling with rules which are rather confusing. But in fact, it is an ancient contact sport that dates back thousands of year to the region of Punjab in northern India. Like Rugby, its a team sport. There are two teams competing at one time with 7 players on each side. However, there are no goals or even a ball present. Like wrestling, the objective is to score points by pinning the opponent. However, the similarities end right there. (Detailed rules can be found here.)

But the main point about Kabaddi, besides winning of course, is to bring people together. It creates a splendid spectacle filled with excitement and draws a crowd of all ages.

Kabaddi is huge in the subcontinent, however it has now found a new home in New York City.  According to the head of the organizing committee at the Indo-American Welfare Society, a non profit which hosted the event, “Kabaddi follows where ever Punjabi’s go” so its only normal that a densely concentrated Punjabi neighborhood such as Richmond Hill hosts such an event in its public park.

The event was grand and added onto the tradition of hosting Kabaddi tournaments in NYC area, which was established couple of years ago. [3] The event drew hundreds of people from all around the Tri-State area, the US and several countries from around the world. Some of the athletes have competed at international levels and  even participated in the Kabaddi World Cup.  The local Gurudwara even provided partial funding for the event and catered Indian food and beverages for the spectators. Well off Indian businessmen also took part in sponsoring the event and provided for the prize money.

Furthermore, the event also shed light onto the problems which exist within the North-Indian immigrant community in America. The speakers particularly talked about immigration issues, provided a commentary about how one should live in the new country, as well as talked about visa abuses and illegal alien statuses. According to the various figures that were brought up during the event, a vast number of the Indians overstay their visas and remain in the US as illegal immigrants. A lot of these individuals come to the US and Canada to partake in various sporting events and decide not to leave when the term of their stay is over. This problem particularly effects the organized Kabaddi events, based on  last year’s statistics presented at the event, about 405 Kabaddi players legally entered the US and Canada out of which only 304 actually returned after the event was over. As a result of such practices, both the American and Canadian governments have started to take stricter approaches in issuing visas- directly affecting international kabaddi events.


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