If you enjoyed playing British Bulldog in the playground at school then we may have found your new favourite sport. Imagine charging into your chums holding your breath, wrestling and tagging as many of them as possible before returning to your own side again and being allowed to exhale, chanting as you do. Roughly speaking, that’s Kabaddi and you can see it live in London this weekend.
The Indian village sport gets a liberal sprinkling of Bollywood glamour and a WWF wrestling-style make-over for the international debut of the World Kabbadi League at The O2 arena. Eight teams will clash, mixing strategy with brute strength and huge lung capacity, in the wake of a live performance by Bollywood superstar, Akshay Kumar – who is in town for the UK premiere of slapstick flick, Entertainment.
Kumar is also the owner of participating Punjab team, Speedy Singhs. Fellow film star Sonakshi Sinha also lends celebrity endorsement to the League, supporting her team, the Birmingham-based United Singhs while rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh has named a team after himself — the Yo Yo Tigers will be based in Toronto. Other teams taking part are the Vancouver Lions, California Eagles, Haryana Focus, Punjab Thunders and one other we can’t find out the name of.
The game goes thus*: Two teams of seven players face each other in a circle and take turns sending a “raider” into the other team. To win a point, the raider must take a breath, run into the opposing half, tag one or more members of the opposite team, then return to his home half before inhaling again. The raider will chant “kabaddi, kabaddi” with his exhaling breath to show the referee he has not inhaled. The game is played with 20-minute halves and a five-minute half-time break during which the teams exchange sides.
Excited? Watch this intensely dramatic trailer.
*Thanks to Wikipedia