Diego Ibarra Sanchez

Photographer; Educator; Video journalist
   
Pehlwani : the ancients mud wrestler
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: www.diegoibarra.com Diego Ibarra Sánchez is a documentary photographer, filmmaker , and educator, based in Lebanon, who specializes in in-depth long-form visual stories.   He has been contributing to THE NEW YORK TIMES since 2012,... MORE
Public Story
Pehlwani : the ancients mud wrestler
Copyright Diego Ibarra 2022
Updated Apr 2020
Topics Photography, Spotlight
Pehlwani, an ancient style of wrestling, is struggling to survive in modern day Pakistan. Its roots may date to as far back as the 4th century B.C. Developed in the Mughal Empire by combining different fight disciplines, it has influences from Persians 

Bamma Pehlwan's akhara, the pit where pehlwans practice, is located behind the Lahore Fort and it is the largest wrestling pit in the city. Few years ago it was famous for having produced many Pakistanis and Asian champion. But this ancient way of life is fast heading towards extinction, as there are just few loyalists struggles to keep the sport alive:  it faces a lack of financial support from the Government. Despite declining popularity, the sport remains a way of life for some fighters.

Climbing; pushups; digging; training old techniques in the clay pit. Pehlwani is a balance of body and soul that requires dedication and commitment. Unfortunately, most of the fighters have to balance it with daily jobs. 

Time stops in an expanded sigh. Pehlwans (means warriors) devote their life towards this ancient way of life in a country that walks among shadows and hopes. Marked by a chronic corruption, the lack of energy, the ethic-religious violence and an unsalvageable social gap this ancient way of life drives us into a different approach to Pakistan
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