The Pro Kabaddi League (currently known as Vivo Pro Kabaddi) is a professional-level kabaddi league in India. It was first established by Charu Sharma in 2014.
The Pro Kabaddi League was first held in 2014; its founder, Charu Sharma, was influenced by the popularity of the Kabaddi tournament at the 2006 Asian Games, which utilized an indoor version of the game played on a court. Sharma cited the Indian Premier League as an influence on the overall formatting of the competition, noting that "mere sport works well [in India], but if you package it better, it works better." The PKL uses a franchise-based model; the league began with eight teams, each of which having paid fees of up to US$250,000 to join.
There were doubts over whether the PKL would be successful, noting that there were many leagues attempting to emulate the IPL's business model and success, and that unlike cricket, there were relatively fewer well-known players in Kabaddi. However, it was also noted that kabaddi was widely played in grassroots community settings, and could thus attract a wide variety of rural and metropolitan viewers for advertisers to target if the league gained significant traction.
The inaugural season was seen by a total of 435 million viewers, placing it just behind the total-season viewership of the 2014 Indian Premier League season, while the inaugural championship was seen by 86.4 million viewers.Star Sports, the PKL's broadcaster, subsequently announced in 2015 that it would acquire a 74% stake in the league's parent company Mashal Sports.
For the 2017 season, the PKL added four new teams, and changed its format to split the teams into two divisions known as "zones".
See also: Kabaddi § Standard style
The PKL's rules are similar to that of the indoor team version of Kabaddi, but with additional rules to encourage more scoring. Playing two "empty" raids in a row will trigger a "do-or-die raid", where the raider must score a point or they will be declared out. When a defensive side has three or fewer players remaining, tackles are scored as a "Super Tackle", which is worth two points instead of one.
Main article: 2014 Pro Kabaddi League
The first signing and auction of players for the 8 teams was held on 20 May 2014 in Mumbai. India's national kabaddi captain Rakesh Kumar was the priciest among the players bought for ₹12.80 lakh by the Patna Pirates. Sports Authority of India's Deepak Nivas was bought by Telugu Titans franchise for ₹12.60 lakh. Tae Deok Eom was the highest paid overseas player bought for ₹7 lakh by Patna franchise.
The duration of the season was from 26 July 2014 to 31 August 2014. There were double round robin matches along with two semi finals, third place and final games. 56 games were to be played in first round and 4 in play off stage making total of 60 games. 8 teams took part in first edition. First game was played on July 26 between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers and the final was played on August 31 at Mumbai. Jaipur Pink Panthers beat U Mumba by 35-24 to win the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League.
Main article: 2015 Pro Kabaddi League season
Star Sports Pro Kabaddi season 2 was from July 18 to 23 August 2015. They were a total of 60 matches played these season with two semifinals, a third place play-off and a final. First game was played on July 18 between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers and the final was played on August 23 at Mumbai between U Mumba and Bengaluru Bulls. U Mumba beat Bengaluru Bulls by 36-30 to win the 2015 season of Pro Kabaddi League.U Mumba stood first, Bengaluru Bulls stood second and Telugu Titans stood on third position in the league.
Main article: 2016 Pro Kabaddi League season (January)
Star Sports Pro Kabaddi Season 3 will have two editions. The COO of Star India, Mr. Sanjay Gupta confirmed that Star Sports Pro Kabaddi wants to make Pro Kabaddi, a 5-week event, happen 10 weeks a year by having two editions a year. The idea is to play the tournament once in January–February 2016 and once in June–July 2016. It also had 8 teams. Patna Pirates beat U Mumba by 3 Points in the final in Delhi to take home the trophy. Puneri Paltan came third this season.
Main article: 2016 Pro Kabaddi League season (June)
The fourth season took place from June 25 to July 31, with the existing eight teams participating. Patna Pirates beat Jaipur Pink Panthers in the men's final. Season 4 also saw the launch of first professional woman kabaddi league, Women's Kabaddi Challenge (WKC). First season saw 3 teams namely Ice Divas, Fire Birds and Storm Queens battle it out to be the first ever WKC champions. The final, scheduled along with the men's final in Hyderabad, saw the Storm Queens defeat the Fire Birds.
Main article: 2017 Pro Kabaddi League season
The 2017 season was the fifth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, and it featured a total of 12 teams, including new teams from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat. The team from Haryana is known as Haryana Steelers owned by JSW Sports. Sachin Tendulkar co-owns the Tamil Nadu team named Tamil Thalaivas. The Uttar Pradesh team is named as UP Yoddha owned by GMR group and Gujarat team is named Gujarat Fortune Giants owned by Gautam Adani.
Auctions for the new season were held in May, before which the existing teams were allowed to retain one player each. The auction saw over 400 players go under the hammer and a total of Rs 46.99 crore spent by the 12 teams.
The Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 started on July 28, 2017.
The most expensive pick of the auction was raider Nitin Tomar, who was bought by the Uttar Pradesh team for a sum of Rs 93 lakh. Following in second place was Rohit Kumar after the Bengaluru Bulls picked him for a Rs 81 lakhs price. The most expensive foreign player was South Korea's Jang Kun Lee after he was retained by the Bengal Warriors for Rs 80.3 lakhs.
The new season was slated to be the biggest league tournament of its kind in the history of Indian sports in terms of geographical coverage and duration. It featured 138 matches spread across a time period of 13 weeks across 11 states.
A Children's Kabaddi tournament, known as KBD Juniors, was also organised between schools of the cities in which the matches were held.
Patna Pirates Beat Gujarat Fortune Giants by 55-38 in the final with the Man Of The Tournament Pardeep Narwal stealing the show with 19 raid points against a hapless Fortune Giant defense for the first time in the tournament.
The award ceremony of the finale was hosted by Pooja Bhamrah. Pardeep Narwal was adjudged the man of the finale.
As per the available data of the opening 2 weeks, Star Sports Pro Kabaddi viewership on TV increased by nearly 56% from the 2014 year’s viewership. During the inaugural season tournament viewership was 43.5 crore(435 million) viewers, which was the second in India after the 56 crore(560 million) of IPL viewership. The online viewership also increased 1.3 crore unique visitors, which is 18.5 times than of last year’s 7 lakh unique visitors. The third season which was flagged off on 30 January, recorded a surge in viewership with the opening week ratings 36 per cent higher than the week one viewership for its last season.
Personnel and kit
Two teams, Jaipur Pink Panthers, U Mumba have won the tournament once while Patna Pirates have won the Pro Kabaddi League thrice and the only champions to have defended their title twice.
Position of all the teams in all seasons
Best Raiders [Most raid points all season]
Best Defenders [Most Tackle Points]
Best All-rounders [Most (Total) Points]
Prize money for the winner of Season 5 is ₹ 3 crore. The first and second runners-up will be awarded ₹ 1.8 crore and ₹ 1.2 crore respectively.
Anup Kumar: "Pro Kabaddi League has completely changed the sport"
The U Mumba captain and Indian kabaddi team vice-captain Anup Kumar talks on a wide range of topics
Exclusive15 Jun 2015, 17:30 IST
Anup Kumar – vice captain of the all-conquering Indian national kabaddi team is one of India’s finest kabaddi players ever. Anup captained Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) franchisee U Mumba in the inaugural season of the tournament. For his contribution to the sport of kabaddi, the 31-year old was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2012. Anup Kumar’s rise to the top was glittered with gold medals in the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games.
After the PKL, the kabaddi players finally got the recognition they deserved becoming household names – no one more than Anup Kumar. The raider rose to the occasion and won the most number of points in the tournament, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the first season.
Ahead of the second season of the PKL, Anup Kumar talked to us in an exclusive interview which you can read below:
Have you always wanted to play kabaddi? How did your family react when you broke the news to them?
Not since childhood, but I started playing in school. We used to play just to pass time during our free time. Our sports teacher would make us play sometimes, so we played then and later started playing back home. My father and brother used to ask me to stop playing and wanted me to concentrate on studies. But, I was not interested in studies and slowly I got into kabaddi around the age of 17.
How do they feel now that you have become such a big player and an icon for kabaddi?
My father is no more, but my brother is very happy that I have made them proud. Before, they used to hit me and ask me not to play, but now they are very proud and happy. I am very happy that kids all over the country know my name.
Kabaddi is a very demanding sport physically, how do you train your body to cope with it?
The first time I took kabaddi seriously was when I was selected for my first tournament with the national team in 2006. Back then, I used to practice thrice a day – morning, afternoon and evening. Later, we had our practice sessions twice a day – two and a half hours each in the morning and evening.
Regarding my diet, I only eat homemade food. I eat curd, milk and butter a lot and also almonds, which are very good for the body. It helps in recovery of the body and gives a lot of power. I'll tell you, I have never taken any supplement.
What impact has the PKL made to the sport of kabaddi?
PKL has completely changed kabaddi. Before, very few people knew kabaddi; Only the families of the kabaddi players knew the sport. However, after the first season (of the PKL), everyone knows what kabaddi is and how it is played. There was a brilliant response from the masses for the first season of the PKL. They are very eager for season 2 to start. I get a lot of calls asking when the second season is starting.
Your move – the Toe Touch – is very famous. Could you tell us something about it?
Every player has a special move and mine is the toe touch. I have focused a lot on the toe touch and practiced the move extensively. In Pro Kabaddi, it is very helpful, but now everyone knows that if Anup Kumar comes to raid, he will try the toe touch.
As you mentioned that opponents know about your toe touch, will you try something different in season 2?
(Laughs) Nothing like that. I can do what my thing is. If I try the back-kick, it may backfire. I will try to improve my toe touch even further, but if that will happen, only time can tell.
What effect has the presence of Bollywood stars made on the PKL?
It is very good for our sport and us (the players). Celebrities attract a lot of people, who come to see them and they see our game too. The stars coming to matches is profitable to us. They attract sponsors and people respond to the glamour attached to kabaddi.
Do you think the PKL will popularize the sport of kabaddi and make the players household names?
Will it happen? It has already happened. It has only been 1 season and if kabaddi continues this way, the possibilities are endless. You can't even imagine how far kabaddi can go with the PKL.
You were the MVP and the top raider in the first season. How does it feel to be named the best player?
I am very happy by this. With it being the first season, my name will be written in history. Who was the MVP in the first season – Anup Kumar; Most number of points – Anup Kumar. It is very good for me that my name will be written in the history books. All the kids growing up will know that there was a player called Anup Kumar who played in the league. It is a very happy moment for me.
In the first season, Ravi Shetty was the team coach and now Bhaskaran Edachery has taken over the reins. Could you tell us the difference in approach between the two?
I didn't spend a lot of time with Shetty sir. But, as Bhaskaran sir is the national team coach, I have been with him for a long time – 5 years. Both are good coaches, I believe among all the coaches in the league, there is no better coach than our team's coach, nobody.
You are the captain of U Mumba and vice-captain of the Indian national team. Which team do you like more?
To be honest, U-Mumba is a very good team, but in the national team, only the top players from all over the country are involved. So, you can understand how good the team would be. Due to the national team having the top 12 players from the country, I like the national team more.
India has won all the international tournaments in Kabaddi. Do you think any other country can give India a good competition?
There is no question of other countries beating us. The Indian team and players are very good. Iran and South Korea are catching up; Pakistan was a good team before. But, their standards are not up to Iran’s and South Korea’s. We have a good competition with Iran, who have a very good team.
You have achieved so much. Is there a particular moment that you will never forget?
One match that will stay in my memory is the Asian Games final vs Iran in Incheon, Korea. The match was very tough and in the last moment, we had a 2-point lead, Iran had 2 players and I had gone to raid. I got tackled and then I got very nervous thinking I had lost the gold for India. I felt very bad. Then we had only a 1-point lead, but held on for the win. I will never forget that moment.
Apart from kabaddi, what do you like to do?
I like to go out, roam around with friends, enjoy with them.
What advice would you give to budding kabaddi players?
To be a good player, firstly you should have good manners, your behaviour should be exemplary – you should be disciplined to be a good player. Work hard, respect the coach and practice well. Do a lot of extra work. Work as much as you can.
Pro Kabaddi 2017 Season 5India Kabaddi teamU MumbaAnup Kumar
Fetching more content...
Fetching more content...