by Shakir Ashraf
SRINAGAR: Arif Saleem Bohru popularly known as ‘Badshah Khan’ is all set to become the first professional wrestler from Jammu and Kashmir to fight in World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) India tryouts scheduled early next year.
Arif, who is just 23, has earned the title Badshah Khan from Indian wrestling giant, the Great Khali in whose Jalandhar academy he is currently enrolled.
Already among the top-five pro-level wrestlers in India, Arif will make his debut in the coveted WWE next year if he qualifies the tryouts.
A resident of Neel area of Banihal, Arif is six foot two inches tall. He has already won many competitions at the district and state levels. Today, Saleem is considered to be one of the toughest wrestlers in India having played 100 odd matches with a winning percentage of 85 per cent.
Arif said his inspiration to become a wrestler came from his father who from a very young age told him stories of the struggle, hard work, and success of the Great Khali.
“I joined Great Khali’s CWE academy when I was just 20 years old. It was a dream come true to me,” Saleem said, adding that there were two trials before he was admitted in the academy.
“I had never imagined that I would get such a platform,” Arif said.
On his training schedule at the academy, Arif said, “Every day there is a 4-hour pro-wrestling class. Then there are cardio exercises for one and a half hours. We work out in the gym for 2 hours.”
To keep his body in shape, Saleem doesn’t eat sweet and fatty foods.
However, life wasn’t always this smooth for Arif as he had to work as a labourer at a young age owing to the financial “condition” of his family.
He overcame all these hurdles to reach the pinnacle of wrestling in India.
“I studied till 12th class and worked as a labourer because of our financial conditions. Today, I am among the top five pro-wrestlers of India,” Arif said.
As cricket and football dominate the sports scene in Jammu and Kashmir, Saleem said that there is no infrastructure for wrestling in the union territory.
“Government should organize wrestling events in Jammu and Kashmir as well in order to develop wresting infrastructure grows here,” Arif said.