The season three of the Pro Wrestling League got off to a lukewarm start with a modest crowd turnout and top draw Sushil Kumar not making his tournament debut after the opposition blocked the 74kg category. A handful of people who had come to watch the action at the Siri Fort Sports Complex were left disappointed after Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, representing Mumbai Maharathi, won the toss and took no time in blocking the 74kg category, in which Sushil was to compete for Delhi Sultans. The crowd numbers increased as the tie progressed but still more than half of the 3000 capacity arena was empty. PWL CEO Sunil Yash Kalra felt the turnout would improve as the 18-day league progresses. "I am sure there would have a lot more people if Sushil was competing. But his category was expectedly blocked by the opposition which is the beauty of this format," Kalra told PTI. "Wrestling is a sport where you are never worried about the crowd support.
It has a huge following. I am confident the turnout will only get bigger as the tournament goes on. "There are an unprecedented number of world and Olympic medallists taking part in the league," he said, adding that 12 Olympic medallists and 24 world championship medallists are participating in the event. With Sushil not stepping on the mat, the headline fight of the evening was between Rio Olympics 65kg champion Soslan Ramonov and reigning 61kg world champion Haji Aliyev. Ramonov won the battle 3-2. As far as Indian interest was concerned, Sakshi Malik competed in the 62kg class and won her bout comfortably against Monia Kumari. After seven bouts, Mumbai Maharathi defeated Delhi Sultans 5-2 in the tie. Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was also present at the venue.
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