Pro-Kabaddi League:Changing the Face of Indian Kabaddi

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However, in July 2014, kabaddi got a new makeover with the launch of the PKL, a professional Kabaddi League. This was an initiative of Mashal Sports and was co-promoted by industrialist Anand Mahindra and sports commentator Charu Sharma.

PKL highlighted the modern, international, and competitive face of kabaddi and took the sport to new heights of professionalism. The league, backed by the IKF and AKFI, had eight franchises owned by industrialists and Bollywood stars.

These were the Bengal Warriors (Kolkata), Bengaluru Bulls (Bengaluru), Dabang Delhi (Delhi), Jaipur Pink Panthers (Jaipur), Patna Pirates (Patna), Puneri Paltan (Pune), Telugu Titans (Vizag), and U Mumba (Mumbai) (See Exhibit I). Some of the prominent franchise owners were Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan (Jaipur Pink Panthers); Ronnie Screwvala (U Mumba), CEO of the film production house UTV; Kishore Biyani, founder of Future Group (Bengal Warriors); and Radha Kapoor (Dabang Delhi), daughter of Yes Bank founder, Rana Kapoor (See Exhibit II). Moreover, roping in celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Aishwaya Rai to promote the game generated an adequate buzz around it...

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According to analysts, though India was a world champion in kabaddi, the kabaddi players had remained relegated to the background and lost in oblivion. The players were ignored by the audience, governments and sponsors and had not got their due or the popularity they deserved, they said. However, with the launch of PKL, kabaddi got a new name and status as did the players. With millions of viewers watching the league on television and thousands of supporters jamming the stadia, the league witnessed the emergence of new sporting heroes in India. With PKL, the kabaddi players received the visibility and recognition they deserved. PKL opened the doors of opportunity to the young kabaddi players in rural areas and gave birth to new sporting heroes, opined observers...


Owing to the success of the league, the organizers launched a Women’s Kabaddi Challenge on June 28 2016. Played alongside the fourth season of men’s PKL, the women’s league featured three teams–Fire Birds, Storm Queens and Ice Divas. Storm Queens emerged as the winners of the inaugural season defeating Fire Birds in the finals. Reportedly the first two matches of the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge alone registered a viewership of 38 million, the highest viewership that any women’s sport had registered in India...


Exhibit I:Team Logos of PKL (2016)

Exhibit II:Owners and Captains of PKL Franchises (as of June 2016)

Exhibit III:Pro Kabaddi League 2014 Auction Board (Bid in millions of Rupees)

Exhibit IV:PKL Season 4 (2016): Top 10 Contracted Players