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Mallakhamb: The Hardest Sport You’ve Never Heard Of – The Wire

A boy performs a Mallakhamb pose on a pole as others watch at the Shree Samartha Vyayam Mandir in Mumbai, October 21, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

Mallakhamb is an ancient Indian traditional sport. The word ‘malla’ means gymnast and ‘khamb’ means pole.
The earliest mention of the sport can be traced back to the 12th century, where it is mentioned in the classic Manas-Olhas.Competitive Mallakhamb was first introduced at the national level in 1958, at the National Gymnastics Championships.

There are several kinds of Mallakhamb – rope Mallakhamb, pole Mallakhamb and hanging Mallakhamb. Each form involves a gymnast performing contortions and poses with a vertical wooden pole or a rope. Although the sport involves a variety of skills and incredible strength, not unlike gymnastics itself, it has been largely ignored in India.

In order to ensure it survives and flourishes, Mallakhamb fans have come together to help popularise the sport.

One such group is Mallakhamb India, whose members can be seen performing different aspects of Mallakhamb in  the video below:

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