One of the top raiders in the Pro Kabaddi League at present, Arjun Deshwal is a household name in the Indian Kabaddi fraternity and is an inspiration to many aspiring talents who want to make their future in the sport.

Born on July 7 in Basera of the Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, Deshwal was always drawn towards playing sport and enjoyed cricket as a youngster.

However, even though he played cricket aged 11, Deshwal would always have a keen eye on boys in his village who’d play kabaddi and seeing many of those youngsters returning with medals after kabaddi tournaments pushed him towards trying his hand at the sport.

Realising his kabaddi potential

Once he did try his hand at kabaddi though there was simply no looking back. Aged 14 now, it didn’t take long for Deshwal to discover that he had all the makings of a swift raider owing to his style of play which could be characterised by his swift movements, explosive bursts, and deceptive fakes.

His talent soon caught the attention of onlookers and he was aged 16 when he entered the Nationals while representing his school in an U-16 category event. The year 2015 saw him chosen as a state champion in the U-19 team.

A couple of years later, he participated in a National Senior Kabaddi match from Uttar Pradesh and by 2019, Deshwal had the opportunity to play in a Uttrakhand State-level National match.

By this stage, the wheels were in motion for Deshwal’s rise to superstardom status and needless to say, the talented raider was clear-sighted in his quest to be a star in the sport as can be ascertained by the fact that he declined army offers from Bangalore and Hyderabad based on the kabaddi quota.

He declined such great opportunities to pursue his kabaddi dream by focusing solely on the sport. Eventually, though he joined the army from Roorkee after turning 18 and excelling in an army trial where he was enlisted courtesy of his athletic achievements.

Even after joining the army ranks, Deshwal continued to hone his kabaddi skills under the tutelage of long-term coach Mr. Bhupinder Singh. 

The hard work and dedication to kabaddi, in fact, never stopped as he was seen practicing under his village coach Mr. Dharminder Singh while back home for vacation.

Pro Kabaddi League’s breakthrough 

His steadfast nature and determination towards paving the way for himself eventually bore great success when he signed his first PKL contract with U Mumba in 2018. 

However, he suffered a setback with the team after picking up an injury which restricted his time on the mat to a mere three games in what was his debut Pro Kabaddi League campaign.

The following year during Season 7, however, was when glimpses of Deshwal’s true potential came to the fore on the grand stage of the Pro Kabaddi League. 

He scored 104 raid points for U Mumba in Season 7 and emerged as one of the bright sparks for the team while also announcing his arrival to the rest of the league.

Now on every team’s radar as a top-quality PKL raider, Season 8 saw Jaipur Pink Panthers dish out a whopping INR 96 lakh at the Pro Kabaddi player auction to secure Deshwal’s services after the player himself chose to enter the auction on the advice of his family having earlier turned down a contract extension from U Mumba.

It was a big show of faith by the Panthers’ management on a player who was still learning his ropes and it’s safe to say that Deshwal certainly didn’t disappoint. 

His first campaign with the Panthers saw him finish as his team’s top raid points scorer with 267 raid points, which made him second only to Pawan Sehrawat on the overall raid points leaderboard for the season.

Despite his team narrowly missing out on the playoffs, Deshwal did his reputation no harm and gave the rest of the league an indicator of what was to come from the star raider.

Leading the Panthers to PKL glory

The following campaign witnessed him leading the Panthers to their second PKL title triumph and their first after Season 1. He led Jaipur Pink Panthers to the Season 9 trophy while starring as their lead raider with 296 raid points - the most by any player for the campaign.

His performances saw him deservedly take home the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Season award, making it a truly memorable campaign from both an individual and collective point of view.

Deshwal’s PKL performances have also made him a regular with India’s national team with whom he’s won gold medals at the Asian Games 2022 and Asian Kabaddi Championship 2023. This also earned him further accolades in his hometown as he was made DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

And while Season 10 of Pro Kabaddi saw him finish as the joint top raid points scorer with 276 raid points, he will be disappointed not to have helped the Panthers reclaim the PKL title.

That said, Deshwal doesn’t come across as an individual who allows setbacks to have a major impact on him. 

Much to the contrary, they tend to fuel his desire and determination to come back even stronger, which is something we can expect from him once the new PKL season gets underway.

Follow Pro Kabaddi on Instagram, Facebook, X & YouTube for all the latest updates!