New Delhi: Hailing from a part of the world where kabaddi is rarely even heard of, Jairo Chavez is an interesting tale of an American's love affair with the rustic Indian sport to which he was introduced by a slight twist of fate.
Jairo, who won the best stopper in his debut game for Vancouver Lions at the ongoing World Kabaddi League, spoke to PTI about how he accidentally got hooked to the sport.
"I got started about three and a half years ago. One of my really good friends invited me and my brother Jesus to go wrestle in Olympic style wrestling. Me and my brother have wrestled and I became a state champion in 2013 for college (in California)," Jairo said in an interview to PTI.
But as destiny would have it, Jairo and his brother started developing interest in Kabaddi as their scheduled wrestling tournament during Kabaddi matches was called off.
"My friend Gurpreet Singh invited me and my brother to go wrestle and my brother went to a local match, he wrestled and he won and we decided at that point that we wanted to continue wrestling during the kabaddi tournament. The following week there was a kabaddi tournament and we got invited to go wrestle and it ended up being cancelled.
"The wrestling was cancelled so we started watching kabaddi and at that point, we decided that we wanted to play, we wanted to try it out. Our friend Gurpreet talked to one of the sponsors and we got onto a team. My brother played under 21 and I played open, we both started as raiders," he added.
Jairo said kabaddi is beginning to make an impact in the USA as well.
"From when I started 3 and half years ago, I think that it has become more popular. It is definitely growing and I'm very happy to see the World Kabaddi League. We need to keep it growing. In Canada it is very big and it is starting to become very big in the US," said Jairo.
Describing Kabaddi as a "beautiful game" and WKL a wonderful experience, Jairo said, "I think the world needs to know about Kabaddi, it is a beautiful sport."
"It just recently became a professional sport so it's still growing. But as it's growing, obviously, financially it will become better, so it is an investment as well to play kabaddi now, in 2014."
An American of Mexican origin, Jairo juggles his twin jobs of being a professional Kabaddi player and a policeman.
"At the moment, I'm working as a deputy sheriff and my brother is a student in college. As far as wrestling, we are just doing freestyle wrestling tournaments."
Despite the sluggish performance of Vancouver Lions in the current edition of WKL, Jairo is determined to give his best for his team.
"It's a team sport. It's not an individual thing. I am going to do my best to help the team as well as my brother. He will be playing in the next week, we are going to do our best to win, that's why we are here."