Bajrang Punia’s former coach Shako Bentinidis has expressed solidarity with wrestlers who took on the sport’s federation and its functioning last week.
“I would like to express my support to all the members of the Indian wrestling team and all the wrestling fans. All members of the Federation should leave immediately. I have been serving this beautiful sport for 35 years, but I have never had contact with such non-professionals. They put me in hell for what is called 4 years. There is no point in telling all the details here, I will just say that they showed disrespect to everyone,” Shako wrote in a social media post.
The Georgian coach joined hands with Punia in 2018 and guided the ace Indian wrestler to an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo, 2018 Asian Games gold and a bronze medal at the 2019 world championship.
“I always tried to lead with my program so that we would have results, so that the whole world could see our strength and unity. They demotivated me to continue my successful career. I can imagine how many athletes have given up on wrestling,” Shako added.
He also credited private entities in sport like JSW and Olympic Gold Quest for the medals India has managed in the discipline in the recent past.
“The federation should be immediately cleaned of these illegal people so that a person who loves this sport like his own family comes to the head,” Shako wrote.
Punia, Vinesh Phogat and other ace Indian wrestlers sat in protest at Jantar Mantar for three days before calling off their protest after a meeting with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
The wrestlers called out the body for its dictatorial way of functioning while Phogat and others like Sakshi and Anshu Malik levelled allegations of sexual harassment against the president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
While Sharan Singh still remains the WFI’s president, he has been asked to step aside from day-to-day functioning of the federation. An oversight committee headed by boxer MC Mary Kom will look into the allegations against him and handle daily functions of the body.