An Indian freestyle wrestler, Bajrang Punia competes in the 65-kilogram class. Punia earned a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by tying Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan by an 8–0 margin. Punia is the sole wrestler from India to have won four medals during the World Wrestling Championships.
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He is among the leaders of the Indian wrestlers’ ongoing protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in 2023. He was bestowed with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honor in India, but renounced it in protest following the election of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s personal aide to the position of Wrestling Federation of India chief.
Bajrang Punia Family & Early Life
Punia is a native of Jhajjar, Haryana, Khudan. His wrestling career began at the tender age of seven, following his father’s encouragement to pursue the sport. Punia was raised in a rural setting. His family was unable to afford conventional athletics. He was instead required to participate in free athletics such as Kabaddi and wrestling. Although Punia herself was not a wrestler by trade, her family enrolled him in a local mud wrestling school when he was a young child. Punia began to miss classes in order to attend wrestling practice. In 2008, he enrolled at Chattarsal Stadium, where Ramphal Mann provided his training. His family relocated to Sonepat in 2015 so that he could attend a Sports Authority of India regional center.
Currently, he holds the position of Gazetted officer OSD Sports with the Indian Railways.
Sangeeta Phogat, an additional wrestler, is married to Punia.
Bajrang Punia Career
2013 Asian Wrestling Championships
In the 60 kg men’s freestyle semi-finals in New Delhi, India, Bajrang was defeated 3–1 by Hwang Ryong-hak of North Korea, who prevailed to earn the bronze medal.
In the Round of 16, he defeated Japanese opponent Shogo Maeda 3–1. In order to advance to the semi-finals, he defeated Morad Hassan of Iran 3–1 in the quarterfinals.
2013 World Wrestling Championships
Bajrang won the bronze medal in the 60 kg men’s freestyle division in Budapest, Hungary, after qualifying for the bronze medal match via the re-qualification round. He defeated Enkhsaikhany Nyam-Ochir of Mongolia by a score of 9–2 at that location.
He was defeated 7–0 by Vladimir Dubov of Bulgaria in the Round of 32. After the Bulgarian grappler qualified for the championship match, Bajrang earned a walkover against Shogo Maeda of Japan. His subsequent opponent was Romania’s Ivan Guidea, whom Bajrang defeated 10–3 to advance to the bronze medal match.
2014 Commonwealth Games
He won the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 61 kg category in Glasgow, Scotland, after falling to David Tremblay of Canada 1–4.
Bajrang defeated Sasha Madyarchyk of England 4–0 in the Round of 16. He defeated South African Marno Plaatjies 4–1 in the quarterfinals. He faced Amas Daniel, a Nigerian wrestler, in the semi-finals, and was defeated by a score of 3–1.
2014 Asian Games
He won the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 61 kg category in Incheon, South Korea, after falling to Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari of Iran 1–3.
He defeated Mongolian opponent Tuvshintulga Tumenbileg 3–1 in the Round of 16. He advanced to the semi-finals by defeating Farkhodi Usmonzoda of Tajikistan 4–1 in the quarterfinals. In the semi-finals, his 4–1 victory over Noriyuki Takatsuka of Japan ensured him a medal.
2014 Asian Wrestling Championships
Bajrang secured the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 61 kg division in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he was defeated by Masoud Esmaeilpour of Iran, 0–4.
Bajrang faced South Korean Lee Seung-Chul in the Round of 16, whom he defeated 3–1. He defeated Japanese opponent Noriyuki Takatsuka 3–1 in the quarterfinals to advance to the semi-finals. He encountered Mongolia’s Nazmandakh Lhamgarmaa, whom he defeated by a score of 3–1 in order to secure a medal.
2015 World Wrestling Championships
Bajrang, in contrast to his compatriot Narsingh Yadav, failed to secure a medal and placed fifth at the tournament held in Las Vegas.
He was defeated 10–0 by Batboldyn Nomin of Mongolia in the Round of 32. Due to the Mongolian’s qualification in the 61 kg division for the championship combat, Bajrang was given the opportunity to compete in the Repêchage round. His first opponent in the rematch round was American Reece Humphrey, whom he easily defeated 6–0. The second challenger was Georgia’s Beka Lomtadze, who fought valiantly but was ultimately defeated 13–6 by the Indian. Regrettably, he stumbled at the final obstacle and was tied 6–6 with his Ukrainian opponent Vasyl Shuptar, who scored the deciding point in their bronze medal match.
Asian Wrestling Championship 2017
In 2017 May, he won a gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championship held in Delhi.
Pro Wrestling League
The JSW-owned Bangalore franchise was acquired for the second time in Bajrang during the auction held in New Delhi. The apprehension of the wrestler cost a total of Rs 29.5 lakh.
The Pro Wrestling League was originally slated to take place in six cities from December 10th to December 27th.
2018 Commonwealth Games
He was awarded the gold medal in the 65 kg category of men’s freestyle in Gold Coast, Australia. He secured the gold medal by virtue of technical superiority over Kane Charig of Wales.
2018 Asian Games
He earned the gold medal in the 65 kg men’s freestyle event on August 19. Takatani Daichi, a Japanese wrestler, was defeated by him 11–8; the score was tied 6–6 after the first round.
2018 World Wrestling Championships
Bajrang won the World Wrestling Championships in 2019 with a silver medal. Following that Silver Medal, he attained the 65 kg World No. 1 position.
2019 World Wrestling Championships
Bajrang earned his second bronze medal at a World Championship in the 65 kg freestyle wrestling division, qualifying India for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
2020 Rome Ranking Series
Bajrang emerged victorious 4–3 over Jordan Oliver in the 65 kg freestyle final of the Ranking Series on January 18.
Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series 2021
He claimed the 65 kg gold medal at the Rome, Italy-hosted Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series 2021 in 2021.
2021 Asian Wrestling Championships
In the final of the 2021 Asian Wrestling Championships, he was defeated by Takuto Otoguro and was awarded a silver medal.
2020 Tokyo Olympics
He defeated Ernazar Akmataliev in the pre-quarterfinals of the 65 kg category at the 2020 Summer Olympics on August 6, 2021. He then defeated Morteza Ghiasi Cheka in the quarterfinals.
He emerged victorious by a margin of 8–0 over the Kazakhstani wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov in the bronze medal match.
A can featuring Bajrang and other Indian Olympians was produced by the Indian soft drink manufacturer Thums Up.
2022 Commonwealth Games
Bajrang Punia prevailed over Lachlan McNeil of Canada to claim the gold medal in the 65kg final at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.