VIVO Pro Kabaddi has been instrumental in the revival and expansion of kabaddi in the country. It has made a great many unknown entities into household names and given young kabaddi enthusiasts a number of heroes to draw inspiration from. Here we take a look at some of these heroes who have made the country proud on the international level besides setting the VIVO Pro Kabaddi stage on fire with their performances on countless occasions.
Hailing from Palra village in Haryana, Anup Kumar has built quite a reputation for himself in recent years as one of the best captains in the game. He is often referred to as “Captain Cool” and he has lived up to that epithet by leading the Indian national side to World cup glory in 2016 and his VIVO Pro Kabaddi side U Mumba to a title triumph in Season 2. He first donned the national jersey at the age of 23 for the 2006 South Asian Games in Sri Lanka. Since then the Arjuna awardee has won many accolades for the national side. He was a part of the Asian Gold medal winning team in 2010 and 2014. A shrewd strategist, he is always looking for ways to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. When on the prowl as a raider he has the uncanny ability to remain calm under pressure and take out the strongest opposition defender. Famed for his “toe touches”, the season 1 MVP is going to lead U Mumba’s charge once again this season and keep the opponents on their toes.
Manjeet Chhillar is a master when it comes to the game of kabaddi. Be it offense or defence, this one-man army from Haryana can do it all. There is little wonder then that he is one of the most decorated players in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history, as Season 1 Best Defender, Season 2 MVP and current record holder for most tackle points in the league. He makes full use of his training as a former wrestler to bring opponent raiders down with brute force, employing blocks and thigh holds with ease. In the hour of need, he can even turn the heat on in the opponents’ half with fiery raids from the right. He is a top tactician and an inspiration to aspiring kabaddi players. The story of how he lost 12kg to represent India’s junior team continues to amaze fans.
Rahul “Raid machine” Chaudhari is one of those raiders who can turn a match on its head in a single raid. The poster boy of kabaddi is quick on his feet and keeps the opponent guessing all the time with his unique strength of being able to raid from both sides of the mat. He is the only player to have amassed more than 500 points (overall 517) in VIVO Pro Kabaddi besides holding the record for most raid points (482), most average raid points and most number of Super 10s (24). It wasn’t always an easy ride for Chaudhari though. He had to face a lot of pressure from his parents to drop the sport and concentrate on his studies. However, the Uttar Pradesh lad persevered and scored big in this battle as well. After watching him on television for the first time his parents started believing in his dream and the rest is history. The current Telugu Titans captain considers star raider Ajay Thakur to be the biggest influence on his initial kabaddi career. The two will be at loggerheads though in Season 5, and fans will be looking forward to seeing who wins the battle of the raiders.
Young kabaddi prodigy Pardeep Narwal is fast becoming one of the most successful players in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history. He won the Season 3 Emerging player award and the next year was chosen MVP. His heroics on the mat have been one of the main reasons behind Patna Pirates’ winning campaigns in the previous two editions of the league. He ended Season 3 as the most successful raider with 116 raid points and the highest number of Super Raids (10) owing mainly to his signature move the dubki, where he slips past the opposition’s defensive chain by diving under it. He also shares the record for the most raid points in a match with Kashiling Adake. One of the most aggressive players in the game, the Dubki King will be renewing his campaign with Patna Pirates this season in their quest for a hat-trick of titles.