PKL’s Growing Influence Outside India: Rise of Kabaddi

PKL’s Growing Influence Outside India: Rise of Kabaddi

PKL’s Growing Influence Outside India Rise of Kabaddi
PKL’s Growing Influence Outside India Rise of Kabaddi

We already know that India is a cricket nation, but more and more locals to starting to show interest in other sports too. That includes kabaddi which is a timeless contact sport that originates in ancient India.

The rise of kabaddi in the country can be attributed to the advent of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) in 2014. However, aside from this tournament starting to pique the interest of local sports fans, it also somehow found a way to capture the attention of international viewers. 

So, what was once known as ‘the game of the masses‘ has evolved into a modern, professional spectacle that transcends borders and cultural boundaries. 

As media rights deals and celebrity investments flood the arena, Kabaddi is no longer confined to traditional settings since it has also found a place in the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. Kabaddi fans can extend their support too by wagering on the best 2023/24 Pro Kabaddi betting odds. In this article, we’ll explore the sport’s growing influence outside India.

PKL’s Impact on Global Recognition of Kabaddi

Modeled after cricket’s pioneering Indian Premier League (IPL), the PKL follows a franchise-based structure with distinct teams owned by film and sports celebrities like Rajesh V Shah, Abhishek Bachchan, and Capri Sports. 

The matches in the PKL itself are also worth the hype. Aside from the interesting way the spot is played, the PKL has high-octane formats like eliminators and triple headers, coupled with innovative rules like ‘Super Tackle’ have made matches thrilling viewing. 

The top players of the games can earn upwards of a crore through player auctions while winners take home prize money of over Rs 3 crore.

Media experts tracking viewership and sponsorship deals have declared PKL among the top 5 leagues in India today. 

PKL matches are now telecast across over 100 countries including in the USA, Canada, China, and parts of Asia. This visibility is introducing the sport to billions worldwide. International players being inducted into PKL teams have further augmented its global appeal.

Inclusion in Multi-Sport Events

Kabaddi’s inclusion for the first time in the Beijing Olympics 2008 was followed by the Men’s & Women’s World Cups in 2004 and 2012 which were hosted in India. Without a doubt, these are some of the tournaments that cemented Kabaddi as a competitive global sport.

The 2023 National Games held for the first time overseas in Hangzhou, China also featured Kabaddi given its popularity. This is a testimony to its expanding footprint. 

The sport is also seen in the Asian Games. It was first played as an exhibition sport at this tournament in 1982. However, it took until 1990 for men’s kabaddi to be included in the official game lineup. The women’s category only made it to the Asian Games in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, India has been dominating kabaddi in the Asian Games. Of all the Kabaddi games in this prestigious tournament, India has won except once. 

It was in 2018 when Iran was crowned the winner after going against South Korea. During this year, India only ended up in the fourth spot. The following year until the most recent kabaddi matches in the Asian Games in 2022, India has taken the wins.

However, it’s worth noting several countries are also starting to produce skilled players like Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia. 

Global Recognition for Local Kabaddi Players

Star raider Pardeep Narwal bought for a record Rs 1.65 crore in auctions, is often compared to cricket’s Virat Kohli for his unbeaten hattricks and tally as the first to cross 1200 raid points. 

Other Indian players like Rahul Chaudhari, Rishank Devadiga, Sachin Tanwar, and Deepak Hooda have gained international fame through record-setting performances and multi-crore contracts.

Top international recruits like Iran’s Fazel Atrachali and Mohammed Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, Korea’s Jang Kun Lee, and Kenyan David Mosambayi have also emerged as household names in their countries owing to PKL’s success. 

Challenges and Opportunities

While Kabaddi is witnessing relevant growth globally, sustaining investment and infrastructure remains challenging outside the subcontinent. What could help is the creation of well-defined tournament calendars and inter-country leagues.

Simply put, participation from other countries is what could boost the growth of this sport.

Meanwhile, the growth of local federations and training infrastructure can also be accelerated through partnerships with PKL franchises to groom talent. 

Of course, if kabaddi will be included in the biggest sports events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, this will also give the sport more care and attention. 

However, as of now, it doesn’t seem likely shortly. It needs to be showcased as an exhibition sport first, at least. 


Overall, with continued patronage and integration into multi-sport events, Kabaddi promises to achieve even greater heights. 

For now, we can already say that it’s a global sport since more and more countries are starting to get into it. Let’s not forget that kabaddi players are also being paid like the biggest cricket players today.