Bollywood and Billionaires Turn Out To Cheer for India’s New Kabaddi League


Professional kabaddi, launched amid much fanfare over the weekend, may be the sport to steal the spotlight from cricket in India.

Bollywood actors and billionaires showed up this weekend to watch the ancient sport which mixes wrestling, tag and capture the flag.

Two, seven-player teams play on a field roughly the size of a tennis court, which has been split into two sides. Teams take turns sending someone into the opponent’s territory, where they try to tag players and scurry back to their own half without getting captured by the defending team. To put a natural time limit on incursions, attacking players cannot inhale while on the opponent’s side. To prove they are doing this, they repeatedly say “kabaddi” during a raid.

The matches usually last around 40 minutes

The Pro Kabbadi League, based on the popular cricket format of the Indian Premier League held its first tournament on Saturday in Mumbai where actors including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan (pictured above) came to watch the game.

While the sport has Indian roots and is played mostly in South Asia, there are leagues and players in other countries including Japan and Iran.

The PKL has 96 players and around one in four of the pros are from outside of India. There are international kabaddi stars from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Kenya and Turkmenistan.

Shown above, Tina Ambani (left) the wife of Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani and Jaya Bachchan (right) actress and politician, watched a kabaddi league match in Mumbai on Saturday. Mrs. Bachchan’s son, Abhishek, a Bollywood actor is the owner of one of the teams, the Jaipur Pink Panthers.

Bollywood heavyweight actors Aamir Khan (left) Shah Rukh Khan (middle) and Amitabh Bachchan (right) in Mumbai at a Pro Kabaddi League tournament on Saturday.

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