KARACHI: Wrestlers from across Pakistan’s southern Sindh province battled on Tuesday in the final match of an ancient form of wrestling called Malakhra that has been played for the last 5,000 years in the regions that make up present day Pakistan and India.
In Karachi, Malakhra contests, often also held in Iran and Afghanistan, started in 1978, said Gul Sher Sheedi, a 61-year-old former wrestler who supervised Tuesday’s match.
A Malakhra match starts with both wrestlers tying a twisted cloth around the opponent's waist and then trying to throw the contender to the ground. The game spans three days, with three wrestlers ultimately bagging the first, second and third prize after a finale.
On Tuesday, though hundreds gathered at Karachi’s Mohammadan football stadium to watch the final match of the season, Sheedi lamented that the game received little attention in a cricket-obsessed city and country.
“The tournament is being held on the occasion of the death anniversary of Hazrat Syed Mahmood Shah,” Sheedi said, referring to a local saint.
Khairuddin alias Talib, who defeated his opponent Tedi Sheedi, said the three winners would get cash prizes but the other contestants would go home with “nothing.”
“We entertain people, we have kept this old game alive. But what do we get?” he said. “We get nothing, neither money, nor the limelight.”