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Virender Singh: Silent Courage

Blog by: Raj Kishan

He fights with his opponents! But not just that, he fights for food, he fights to keep roof on his, he fights for clothes to wear, he fights for livelihood, he fights for his existence, he fights to be heard!

We are talking about Virender Singh. In India, where sports isn’t really varied nor that glorious one sport stands out; Wrestling. Virender Singh is one of India’s most decorated wrestlers. But he is deaf and mute, and people seem to never let him forget that.

Virender Singh was born on 1st April 1986, in Sasroli village, near Jhajjar in Haryana to a farmer’s family. His father was a CISF soldier and mother, a housewife. He has been deaf and mute, his whole life and as a kid he was bullied for it, well actually, things haven’t changed much. He was brought to Delhi by his uncle, to train in CISF akhara.

Watching his father and uncle wrestle, Virender developed an interest in wrestling and they also found talent in him and started honing his skills. With little money and poor facilities, Virender has always had it tough. “The national coach rates him as one of India’s best wrestlers but the federation has never allowed him a chance to qualify for the Olympics saying that he can’t hear the referee’s whistle. To be sidelined because of a hearing disability is a cruel irony,” said Vivek, who made an award winning documentary, ‘Goonga Pehelwan.’

With minimal funds and poor training facilities for wrestling in India, even for the Deaflympics team, his family made sure he obtained the necessary dietary supplements by sending him tinned milk, ghee and fresh vegetables. The deaf-mute wrestler grew up training with Olympics silver medallist Sushil Kumar. Virender is an expert in traditional format.

International medals:

Deaflympics:

2005 Melbourne 84Kg Freestyle Gold
2009 Taiwan 84Kg Freestyle Bronze
2013 Bulgaria 84Kg Freestyle Gold
2017 Turkey 74Kg Freestyle Gold

World Deaf wrestling Championship:

2008 Armenia Silver
2012 Bulgaria Bronze

With these medals, he is India’s most decorated wrestler. But nothing changed. “I still have two pairs of clothes to train in. One pair of shoes. No one has given me anything because of my performances. But it’s okay. I am a very happy man. I get to do what I love,” said Virender in an interview. Just admire the spirit! Virender, who is a clerk with the Haryana Power Corporation, earns more from dangals (fights) where the prize money ranges from Rs. 5,000 to 100,000.

 In July 2015, he received the prestigious Arjuna Award. Before that, he had received the Rajiv Gandhi State Sports Award, awarded by the Government of Delhi, India. Although, these awards have been awarded to him, but it was way more difficult than it looks. Despite all his success, he has been ignored of several honours. Deaflympics and Paralympics are at similar level, but The Paralympic Sports Movement has found much support with awards at all levels for para-athletes but deaf athletes have been ignored throughout, thereby pushing Virender Singh and athletes of his kind into the background and financially difficult circumstances.

He has been a subject of a award winning documentary, “GOONGA PEHELWAN”.

Story of Virender showcases courage at the supreme level. We salute him! He is an inspiration to all the people out there in adverse condition but want to do something with their life. If he can do such great things, we can at least try!

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