A photo series for a personal project on the Kushti Wrestlers of Varanasi. Kushti is an ancient old wrestling style native to India and specifically rich in the Varanasi area. It has become a nationwide sport; with wrestlers reaching fame throughout India, and matches being aired on TV. I was lucky enough to track down a traditional Kushti gym initially started by one of first wrestlers to achieve fame across the country back in the 1950s. The gym is now run by his grandson.
The sport is seen as sacred and a part of the Hindu religion; it is the sport of Hanuman; the Hindu god of strength. Before every match the ground on which the wrestlers fight is blessed, and just off the site a shrine to Hanuman sits to watch over. The name ‘Kushti’ actually refers to the wrap of material that covers the waist of the men while they fight. The train hard in gyms, with a mix of western gym machines and Indian gym tools - rounded rocks and cement on the end of bamboo poles which are rotated around the individual in certain formations to improve strength working the majority of the upper torso.