A small group of four members including two female athletes, represented Nagaland in wrestling during the recently concluded Khelo India Youth Games 2022 held in Madhya Pradesh. The onus was on them to keep the tradition of wrestling in the state alive.
Modern wrestling is entirely different from the traditional Naga style of wrestling known as Kene. "The traditional Naga style of wrestling is supposed to be the oldest combat sport in the North Eastern state of India," Khokhwe Kikhwesiil, Nagaland wrestling team coach said.
According to him, youngsters in the region are coming forward to learn the modern style of wrestling, but it will take time to make an impression at the national level. Kikhwesiil added, “I think it will take some time for modern wrestling to grow in Nagaland.”
Kikhwesiil, a former wrestler, was not able to make a mark at the national level. But he is eagerly looking forward to youngsters doing much better than him soon. “I think Khelo India Youth Games is a good platform for Nagaland to gain experience and improve their performance,” the coach said. “That’s why I am into coaching and hope one day Nagaland wrestlers will make a big impact at the national level.”
Nagaland’s Vizoseno K gave a good account of her performance and beat West Bengal’s Aishani Singharoi in the first round of the women’s 57kg bout.
However, in the second round, the Nagamese wrestler was pitted against Madhya Pradesh’s Hansaben and lost the quarter final bout. Vizoseno was candid and stated, “The second bout was very tough for me. I tried to score points but my opponent was technically far more superior and I lost.”
Vizoseno also competed in the previous two editions of the Khelo India Youth Games held in Guwahati and Panchkula but finished outside the medal tally. Vizoseno was encouraged by her father, who was also a state level wrestler. She won a gold medal in her weight category at the 2022 North East Olympics competition. “She (Vizosena) is young and with more competition I think she will improve her performance,” the Nagaland team coach said. He added, lack of sparring partners is one of the main reasons for the lack of development of female wrestling in Nagaland.
The main group practices wrestling in Kohima’s Indira Gandhi Sports Complex. The coach explained, “There is a good group in lower weight categories in the female section, but there are two or three wrestlers in the 57kg group.”
Vizosena was not disheartened by her performance at Bhopal’s T.T. Nagar stadium complex and wants to come back stronger in the next edition of the competition. She said, “My main priorities in future will be to improve my technique.”