One of India’s most successful and popular athletes, Sushil Kumar, is currently in jail awaiting trial over the murder of fellow wrestler Sagar Dhankar (sometimes referred to as Sagar Dhankad or Sagar Rana). Kumar is accused of leading a group of men who abducted Dhankar and beat him to death at the Chhatrasal Stadium complex in Dehli last May.
Various reports have claimed that Kumar was angry at Dhankar for a number of reasons, including unpaid rent at an apartment Kumar owned, a love triangle involving a Ukranian national, attempts to poach wrestlers from the Chhatrasal gym and Dhankar badmouthing Kumar around town.
Kumar lead police on a 18-day manhunt before he was eventually captured and charged with Dhankar’s murder. Since his arrest reports in India have surfaced claiming that Kumar had associations with some of the most feared organized crime figures in Delhi and the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. This saga involving Kumar is one of many that have demonstrated an uncomfortable proximity between wrestling and crime in northern India.
This week Kumar was charged with additional offenses linked to the night Dhankar was killed.
According to Morning Express a security guard at the Chhatrasal Stadium has given testimony regarding the lead-up to Dhankar’s killing. That witness accused Kumar of firing a pistol at a pack of barking dogs and then threatened a number of athletes who were at the site.
The witness said Kumar fired at athletes and struck them with the gun as he forced them to leave the area. ‘I was with him that night when he was calling several people to the stadium,” added the security guard. “He wanted to teach someone a lesson.”
Police say that lesson included beating Dhankar and his friends with sticks, while someone filmed the assault on a mobile phone. Video of the fatal assault is now in the possession of the police.
Before his public downfall Kumar was recognized as one of his country’s greatest ever wrestlers. He won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver at the 2010 London Olympics. He won gold at the 2010 World Championships in Moscow. He also holds three gold medals from the Commonwealth Games (2010, 2014, 2018).