The only Indian Olympian to win two individual gold medals, Sushil Kumar has been jailed in connection to the death of junior national wrestling champion Sagar Dhankhar.
According to official reports, on May 4, a brawl of around 20 people erupted at Delhi’s Chhatrasal wrestling academy, with Kumar supposedly being a key figure in the conflict. Following on from the incident, 23-year-old Dhankhar, who had been caught up in the brawl, died from his injuries.
Insider information points to the brawl being the by-product of a property dispute between local gangsters and affluent wrestlers. After the brawl, Delhi police hunted for 37-year-old Kumar—for nearly three weeks—and issued a bounty of 100,000 rupees (around £967) for any information.
On May 23, Kumar was spotted and later arrested outside of a Delhi metro station. Subsequently, he was held on a six-day remand by the Delhi police and later jailed. He is now demanding special dietary arrangements, which include Omega 3 capsules, pre-workout supplements, exercise bands and a tailored diet, among other non-standard consumables, as he’s preparing for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Kumar vehemently denies his connection to the murder, with his lawyer saying: “Two groups of wrestlers were fighting. By the time Kumar arrived at the spot of the clash, they had run away. There are no eyewitnesses. Some powerful people are behind the scenes to implicate my client and settle old scores.”
Despite previously exhibiting a clean-cut and media-friendly persona, Kumar did spark headlines in 2016. The wrestling star was accused of tampering with and spiking fellow wrestler Narsingh Yadav’s food after failing a drug test. Fortunately, Kumar was cleared of all charges after a lengthy investigation.
The court is expected to deliberate Sushil Kumar’s fate on Wednesday. Currently, he’s held in Delhi’s Mandoli jail in a solitary cell for security reasons. Whether Kumar will perform at the Tokyo Olympics is yet to be seen. However, all eyes are on him for the upcoming trial—arguably his most brutal bout yet.