India has been really good at Kabaddi, even though cricket gets more attention. The Indian Kabaddi team has won all three Kabaddi World Cup editions since 2004. At the South Asian Games in 2006, 2010, and 2016 they got gold medals. However, in the 2018 Asian Games, they only got a bronze, with Iran taking the top spot. Still, Kabaddi players are getting more recognition now.

Kabaddi has become popular in India thanks to leagues like Pro-Kabaddi and World Kabaddi League. People are as excited about Kabaddi matches as they are about cricket.

Here are the top 5 Indian Kabaddi players:

Pardeep Narwal

Pardeep Narwal, from a small village in Haryana, started playing Kabaddi when he was young. He went pro in 2015 and has been a key part of the Indian Kabaddi Team since 2016, winning gold in most of the tournaments he played in. Pardeep has become one of the most famous Indian Kabaddi players.

In the Pro-Kabaddi League, Pardeep made a big impact. He started with Bengaluru Bulls in the second season but really made his mark with Patna Pirates in the next season, becoming the highest point-scorer and breaking records.

Pardeep Narwal is the only player to be named VIVO Pro-Kabaddi’s Most Valuable Player in two back-to-back seasons (fourth and fifth). In the fifth season, he secured an amazing 359 raid points, way ahead of the second-highest scorer by 150 points. The many records that he holds consist of most points in a single season, the highest points in a single game, and the most points in a single raid. In the Pro-Kabaddi League, he has scored over 1,000 points, a first for any raider in the league’s history.

Ajay Thakur

Ajay Thakur comes from a small village, much like many other Indian players. When he was just 10 years old, inspired by his cousin Rakesh, who had already played for the Indian national Kabaddi team, Ajay ran away from home to play in a kabaddi tournament. People fondly call him the ‘Iceman’, and he’s considered one of the best raiders to represent India internationally.

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While he played for Air India at the Industrial National Championships, he was also made the captain in 2017. During his time as captain, Ajay led India to victory in the Asian Kabaddi Championships in Gorgan, Iran, earning a gold medal.

In terms of playing style, everyone knows him for his attacking approach. When the team faces tough moments, Ajay is the one who often turns things around during a match. Being one of the tallest players in kabaddi, he has a long reach.

Ajay is famous for his never-give-up attitude. He believes in staying strong and not giving in until the very end of a match. This determination earned him the nickname ‘Iceman’. He’s consistently been among the top raiders in Pro-Kabaddi from the very start. He began his league career with Bengaluru Bulls before moving to Puneri Paltan and eventually joining his current team, Tamil Thalaivas.

Ajay has played in all the Pro-Kabaddi seasons up to now and has been part of many thrilling victories. He was also a hero for India in the 2016 World Cup win and a key player in the Indian team that secured the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Anup Kumar

Anup Kumar is well-liked by Indian kabaddi fans for his calm and composed demeanor. Originally from Haryana, he began playing kabaddi for fun during his school days. Interestingly, his kabaddi talent was discovered later by the coach of the CRPF kabaddi team in 2005, when Anup was working as a constable. A year later, he made his debut for India at the 2006 South Asian Games in Sri Lanka, where India defeated Pakistan to win the gold medal.

Anup is loved by everyone for his bright mind and is recognized for his sharp strategic thinking on the field. In 2012, he was honored with the Arjuna Award. They gave him that to congratulate him on his significant contributions to Indian kabaddi.

In the inaugural season of the Pro-Kabaddi league in 2014, Anup was appointed as the captain of U Mumba and was also named the Most Valuable Player of the season. With a total of 596 points from six seasons so far, Anup Kumar stands as one of the most successful raiders in Pro-Kabaddi.

Rakesh Kumar

Rakesh Kumar, hailing from a village in North West Delhi, discovered his passion for kabaddi during his school years. His impressive performance for the school team caught the attention of the Delhi Team, leading to his representation at the national level. Rakesh made his debut for the Indian team in 2003 and is renowned for his versatile skills in both defense and offense. Thanks to his reliability in critical situations, he’s often entrusted with important responsibilities.

Rakesh played a pivotal role in India’s gold medal victories at three Asian Games editions: 2006 in Doha, 2010 in Guangzhou, and 2014 in Incheon. He was also part of the triumphant Indian teams that clinched the Kabaddi World Cup titles in 2004 in Mumbai and 2007 in Panvel. In recognition of his great contribution to Indian kabaddi, he got the Arjuna Award in 2011. And that made him one of the few kabaddi players to receive this prestigious Indian government award.

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During the first Pro-Kabaddi League auction, Rakesh emerged as the most expensive player. Patna Pirates secured his services for 12.8 lakh INR after five out of eight franchises bid for him. He later became the captain of Patna Pirates. And that made them get to a fourth-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he joined U Mumba, and the following season, he represented Tamil Thalaivas. Currently, Rakesh Kumar serves as the coach of Haryana Steelers.

Manjeet Chillar

Manjeet Chillar, who comes from Nizampur, the same village as Rakesh Kumar, is a notable figure in Indian kabaddi, often referred to as the ‘cradle of Indian kabaddi.’ Originally, Manjeet began his career as a wrestler but had to switch to kabaddi due to a nose injury.

At 33 years old, Manjeet is an all-rounder who represents Tamil Thaliavs in the Pro-Kabaddi League. He kicked off his Pro-Kabaddi League journey with Bengaluru Bulls, where he captained the team in the first season and earned 51 tackle points, the highest by any defender. This performance earned him the Star Sports Defender of the Tournament award. He also contributed 71 raid points, helping the Bulls reach the semi-finals.

His second season with the Bulls was even more successful, with the team finishing as runners-up. Manjeet was named the Most Valuable Player of the season, securing 40 tackle points and 67 raid points. He then moved to Puneri Paltan for the third season before a brief stint with Jaipur Pink Panthers. He currently plays for the Tamil Thaliavs, starting from the sixth season.

Whether in the Pro-Kabaddi League or representing the Indian team, Manjeet consistently impresses with his versatile skills, earning him the nickname ‘One-Man Army.’ He has been a part of the Indian team’s gold-winning campaigns at the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup and the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014.


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