Sushil Kumar Solanki was born on May 26, 1983 in village Baprola, New Delhi, India, is an Indian wrestler who won the gold medal in the 66 kg freestyle competition at the FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships and a bronze medal in the Men’s 66kg Freestyle Wrestling event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kumar is presently employed by the Indian Railways as a Assistant Commercial Manager.
Sushil Kumar created history when he became the first Indian to win a gold medal at FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships held in Moscow on 12 September 2010.
Sushil Kumar beat local hope & crowd favourite Alan Gogaev of Russia 3-1 in the finals for the gold in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling category. Earlier, he had won a thrilling semi-final match against European champion Jabrail Hasanov of Azerbaijan 4-3 to make it to the final. After getting a bye in the first round, Sushil had routed Akritidis Anastasios of Greece 6-0 in the second round, beat Martin Sebastian of Germany 4-1 in the pre-quarters & demolished Mongolian Buyanjav Batzorig 9-1 in the quarter-finals.
Kumar defeated Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan in the repechage round to win the bronze. This was the third medal for India at the Beijing Olympics after shooter Abhinav Bindra claimed the first ever individual Olympic gold medal in the 10 m Air Rifle event and Vijender Kumar won bronze medal in boxing for the country. This was also the second medal for India in wrestling, and the first since K D Jadhav’s bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. On July 2009, he received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna – India’s highest honor for sportspersons.
Sushil Kumar was born into a Solanki Jat family and hails from the village Baprola in New Delhi. Kumar’s father Diwan Singh Solanki was an MTNL bus driver and mother Kamla Devi a housewife. He was inspired to take up wrestling by his cousin Sandeep and his father who was himself a pehlwan (wrestler). Sandeep quit wrestling as the family could only support one wrestler. Kumar trained at the akhada (wrestling school) in the Chhatrasal Stadium from the age of 14. With minimal funds and poor training facilities for wrestling in India, even for the 2008 Olympic team, his family made sure he obtained the necessary dietary supplements by sending him tinned milk, ghee and vegetables.
Trained at the akhada by Indian pehlwans Yashvir and Ramphal, and later by Arjuna awardee Satpal and then at the Railways camp by coach Gyan Singh, Sushil endured tough training conditions which included sharing a mattress with a fellow wrestler and sharing a dormitory with twenty others. At the age of 18 he become state champ. His first success came at the World Cadet Games in 1998 where he won the gold medal in his weight category. He followed this up with a gold in the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in 2000.
Moving out of the junior competition, Kumar won the bronze medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships in 2003 and followed that up with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships. Kumar placed fourth in the World Championships in 2003, but this went largely unnoticed by the Indian media as he fared badly in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, in the 60 kg class placing 14th. He won gold medals at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in 2005 and 2007. He ranked seventh in the 2007 World Wrestling Championships, but managed to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He followed this up with a Bronze in the Asian Wrestling Championships, before heading for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Sushil Kumar was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2006.