Pawan Sehrawat is considered one of the poster boys of the Pro Kabaddi League and is fondly known as the Hi-Flyer.

Third on the all-time leaderboard for most raid points (1189), Pawan is one of the stars of the league and has proven himself to be a consistent match-winner on the mat.

An Arjuna Award recipient in 2023, Pawan won the Pro Kabaddi title with Bengaluru Bulls in Season 6 and was crowned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the league.

He finished as the top raid points scorer in PKL in the sixth, seventh, and eighth seasons besides also holding the record for the most raid points by a player in a single match (39) in league history.

On the international stage, Pawan has also helped India win gold medals at the 2019 South Asian Games and the 2023 Asian Kabaddi Championship.

However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Pawan, who had to deal with his fair share of setbacks before becoming a household name in PKL.

Taking up kabaddi despite resistance from parents

Born on July 9, 1996 in New Delhi, Pawan’s parents didn’t always want their son to make a name for himself in kabaddi.

In his initial years, Pawan played kabaddi not with the intention of carving out a career in the sport but more so because of the joy it brought him.

His mother, in fact, wanted him to focus on his studies but Pawan’s unwavering passion for the sport coupled with his determination to make a name for himself meant that he was always destined to climb to the top.

A bit on the heavier side as a kid, Pawan was chosen for his school’s kabaddi team due to his weight and found instant success in the sport, prompting him to take up the sport more seriously.

Fueled by the belief he could truly make it in kabaddi, Pawan started attending training sessions conducted by Shiv Kumar.

Even though coach Shiv Kumar’s training sessions took place at Kheda village, which is 7 to 8 kilometers away from Bawana in Delhi where Pawan stayed, the Hi-Flyer wasn’t afraid of embarking on that journey that would eventually help him become the player he is today.

Sometimes Pawan would wake up at 3 AM to cycle to the training sessions and reach practice an hour later with a few other teammates. At other times, he would go alone but never did he miss any session regardless of how tough it was.

Coming from a lower-middle-class family, Pawan Sehrawat’s financial situation at home was also quickly dwindling at the time after his father’s business shut down.

This served as even more motivation for Pawan to make it in kabaddi as he went on to play in school Nationals before the University level. 

His exploits soon caught the attention of Bengaluru Bulls coach Randhir Singh Sehrawat during the trials for Northern Railways.

Adjusting to PKL’s high-octane action

Impressed by Pawan’s talents, Randhir Sehrawat helped him get a job in Indian Railways as a TT before drafting Pawan Sehrawat into Pro Kabaddi courtesy of the New Young Player category in Season 3.

His initiation to PKL though wasn’t an easy transition. In his first season with the Bulls, Pawan only managed 45 raid points and fell further down the pecking order the following year when he managed just 11 raid points.

Season 5 then saw him sign with Gujarat Giants for whom he earned only nine raid points and spent most of his time on the bench. His initial tryst with PKL instilled self-doubt as a heartbroken Pawan contemplated leaving the sport altogether.

Unsure of whether he’d even be purchased at the next player auction, Pawan informed his mentor and former coach Randhir Sehrawat that he was about to quit the sport.

Randhir Sehrawat convinced Pawan that the Bulls would buy him at the player auction and once he rejoined them for INR 52.8 lakh, the Hi-Flyer enjoyed a coming of age season as he led his team to title glory and there’s been no looking back since.

Having now mastered skills such as the dubki, jump, and turn in a short duration under the guidance of Randhir Sehrawat, Pawan went from strength to strength in the next few campaigns.

Becoming a certified PKL star

No player scored more raid points than Pawan in Seasons 6,7, and 8. He notched up 271 raid points in Season 6 and a whopping 346 in the following edition, while the eighth season saw him register 304 raid points, cementing his status as the best raider in the league.

No longer on the periphery of the action but more so the main character, Pawan entered the player auction ahead of PKL 9 and was bought by Tamil Thalaivas for a record INR 2.26 crore. 

Unfortunately for Pawan and the Thalaivas, a serious injury ruled him out of action for the ninth season.

He made a return in the Season 10 player auction and once again became the most expensive player in league history after Telugu Titans broke the bank to purchase him for INR 2.60 crore.

While injury ended Pawan’s participation in Season 9 with the Thalaivas, Season 10 was underwhelming for the Hi-Flyer mainly due to the Titans' below-par displays as a team in the league.

Despite Telugu Titans finishing at the bottom of the standings in Season 10, Pawan showed everyone why he is so highly regarded as he fought a lone battle for his team and finished the campaign with 202 raid points, making one of just three raiders to breach the 200 raid points mark in PKL 10.

Looking ahead, Pawan’s newest challenge will be to turn around the fortunes of the Titans after back-to-back poor seasons for the team. 

The Hi-Flyer can be expected to accept his latest challenge with open arms just like those in the past whether it was adjusting to the PKL, a serious injury, or even becoming a kabaddi star against his parents’ initial resistance for that matter.

He will be raring to set things right come Season 11 of PKL and judging by his history of recovering from setbacks, it would take a brave man to bet against Pawan guiding the Titans all the way to title glory with a little more help from his teammates.

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