Virender Singh Yadav Joins Bajrang Punia, Returns Padma Shri Award

Virender Singh Yadav, joins Bajrang Punia in returning the Padma Shri Award, highlighting the ongoing discord with the Wrestling Federation of India.

The wrestling community’s unrest intensifies as Virender Singh Yadav, the 2005 Summer Deaflympics gold medalist, follows Bajrang Punia’s footsteps in returning the prestigious Padma Shri Award as a form of protest. This protest is in response to Sanjay Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan Singh, being elected as the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

Known as Goonga Pehalwan, Virender Singh Yadav announced his decision on Twitter, challenging cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and star-javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra to voice their opinions on the ongoing conflict between players and WFI. In his post, he urged other top players of the country to take a stand and make their decisions known.


“I will also return the Padma Shri for my sister and the daughter of the country, Honorable Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi Sir. I am proud of your daughter and my sister Sakshi Malik,” wrote Virender Singh on X.

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The wrestling turmoil escalated when 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik declared her resignation from wrestling following Sanjay Singh’s election as the WFI president. In a heart-wrenching moment, Sakshi removed her shoes, placing them on the dais before tearfully leaving the press conference, expressing her dejection.

The Sports Ministry acknowledged Bajrang Punia’s personal decision to return the Padma Shri award, emphasizing that the WFI elections were conducted fairly and democratically. Despite this, the ministry expressed its intent to persuade Bajrang Punia to reconsider his decision, recognizing the significance of his protest.

The rift between athletes and the WFI leadership continues to deepen, with prominent figures in Indian wrestling taking a stand against the recent developments. As the wrestling community grapples with these challenges, the broader sporting fraternity watches closely, with the hope that resolutions can be reached to ensure the well-being of athletes and the integrity of the sport.


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