The 25-year-old also spoke about the early days of his career.

Star kabaddi player Nitin Tomar feels that his early foray into wrestling helped refine his performance on the kabaddi mat as well. He has spent five seasons in vivo Pro Kabaddi and has had stellar outings in 2017 and 2018 when he scored on an average 8.6 points per match over the two seasons.

He is 14th on the all-time top raider list and scores 6.6 points per game. Legendary veteran Anup Kumar scored 5.79 points per match in his career. His proficiency in raiding comes from the combination of his agility and brute force. It’s a skill that he has learned from wrestling in his younger days in North India.

“Wrestling teaches you to develop quick reflexes, build your upper body to muscle through defenders, and sheer power which helps you to escape in time. All of this is very useful in kabaddi,” explained Nitin Tomar on PKL’s live chat show, Beyond The Mat.

Influenced by his family’s involvement in the sport, Nitin Tomar used to wrestle as a child. His uncle is Rajeev Tomar, an Arjuna Awardee, Olympian and a Commonwealth Games silver medallist for India.

He remarked, “Everyone in my village was a wrestler and so they were everywhere. We didn’t play kabaddi much as kids but we did wrestle a lot. My uncle was a wrestler, and my grandfather used to run an akhada (wrestling pit). That’s where I got to wrestle with other kids and hone my wrestling skills.”

“Neither wrestling nor kabaddi needs a specific ground or type of equipment. All you need to play these sports is some space. There were two or three akhadas in my village which were open to everyone when I was growing up. People could go to play and train and it was by watching the wrestlers there that we picked up the sport.”

Other kabaddi players also started their sporting careers as wrestlers. Star all-rounder Manjeet Chhillar was a grappler in his early days. Many prominent overseas kabaddi players, particularly Iranians, such as Fazel Atrachali, Abozar Mohajermighani, Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh and Meraj Sheykh were also aspiring wrestlers who tussled their way into the world of kabaddi.