There are a total of 8 franchisees in the 3rd edition of the league with teams from Kolkata, (owned by the Future Group), Bengaluru, Delhi, Jaipur (owned by Abhishek Bachchan), Patna, Pune, Vizag and Mumbai. Apart from India, there are players from 10 other countries in the league.
With players being bought through an auction system, just like the IPL T20, the Pro Kabaddi League has been instrumental in generating large sums of money for the improvement of the sport as well as uplifting the quality of life of its players, most of whom are from rural areas. For example, in the opening season of the tournament, Rakesh Kumar, the Gold medallist from the 2007 Kabaddi World Cup, was bought by the Patna franchise for ₹12.8 lakh. The organisers, Mashal Sports Group, keep 80% of the money earned, while 10% is given to marketing partner World Sport Group and the balance 10% is shared by the league. Further, the winning team gets a payout of ₹50 lakh, the runner-up gets ₹25 lakh and the semi-finalists will get ₹12.5 lakh each.
The second instalment of the tournament was watched by 435 million viewers, which is second to the Indian Premier League. No other league sport in India has this kind of following.
Charu Sharma, the cricket commentator, is the mastermind behind the concept. He roped in his brother-in-law, Anand Mahindra, and some other bigwigs from the corporate world including Uday Kotak and Kishore Biyani to get the momentum going. Abhishek Bachchan was then offered a franchise which he readily bought and still runs.
The name Kabaddi is derived from the Tamil word ‘Kai Piddi’, meaning holding hands. The sport originated in India some 4,000 years ago in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. There are references of kabaddi in the Mahabharata, which is a clear indication of its ancient roots.
Written By : Rishabh Agarwal