How This Actor Is Making India Pay Attention To Arm Wrestling

Parvin Dabas is the owner of the Pro Panja League (PPL), whose objective is to support and elevate arm wrestling as a sport throughout India, taking them to various parts of the country while they promote the event.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari • Jun 15, 2022

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In 1987 Over The Top, starring Sylvester Stallone released in movie halls all over the world, where the action star played a truck driver who aims to win the world arm wrestling championship. Panja, as it's known in India caught on and actor and director Parvin Dabas along with his friends, who were in school at that time started aping a certain habit of Stallone's character where he turns his cap when going for the kill.

It was a few decades later in 2016, that the idea dawned on Dabas to introduce people to professional arm wrestling. "I was always looking to enter some sport as a promoter. I identified with arm wrestling because in India it is known as panja, adding the local touch, and is very accessible. In a lot of other sports there are individuals that are already involved, and here I thought I can actually make a difference," says Dabas.

Dabas is the owner of the Pro Panja League (PPL), whose objective is to support and elevate arm wrestling as a sport throughout India, taking them to various parts of the country while they promote the event. The most recent one being the Indian Arm Wrestling Nationals where Dabas and his wife Preeti Jhangiani were special guests. Also present was Telangana sports minister, V Srinivas Goud, at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad.

The Pro Panja League has collaborated with the Indian Arm Wrestling Federation, who had been holding amateur arm wrestling competitions for the last few years. Together, they are trying to lift arm wrestling from the ground level and get it to the mainstream. PPL has had four big events so far and next on the calendar is the Sheru Classic in Delhi from June 17-19, 2022 and then the Pro Panja League Ranking Tournament which shall take place in Gwalior from July 22-24, 2022 which will see a turnout of a 1000 athletes.

"We are an equal opportunity league, with categories for men, women and in the differently abled category. Participants are farmers, students, businessmen, women police cops, government officers, gym trainers- people from all walks of life. It's a very technical game which has strategy and brain work involved, people think it's only about strength," explains Dabas.

So has he messaged Stallone on Instagram to come on board as a brand ambassador? "That's a good idea and we might do it!" he says, signing off.

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Senior Associate Editor

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