Arif Saleem Bohru, 23, has been receiving lots of congratulatory calls and texts, since news about him taking part in the prestigious World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in the United States broke out.
Better known by his stage name “Badshah Khan”, Bohru, a resident of Neel village in Banihal, is the first professional wrestler from Jammu and Kashmir to wrestle in the WWE.
Bohru, 6-foot 2-inch tall wrestler who weighs 231 pounds, is currently being trained by the famous WWE superstar Great Khali in his wrestling Academy, Jalandhar, Punjab.
“After a long struggle, my dream of taking part in the WWE is coming true. I have no words to express my happiness,” Bohru told Rising Kashmir.
Bohru is currently among the top five pro-wrestlers of India.
Bohru, who has studied up to the 12th class, lives in a family of five- his father, Mohammed Saleem Bohru who is a sub-inspector in CRPF, his mother a housewife and two younger siblings.
Coming from a low-middle class family, Bohru at a very young age has to work as a labourer to help his family during the financial crisis.
“ I come from a low middle-class Kashmiri family and being the elder son I had to help my parents to make a good living,” Bohru said.
Bohru said it was his father who inspired him to become a wrestler by telling the stories of the Great Khali’s struggle, hard work and success.
Fond of playing cricket, Bohru from school days started watching wrestling on TV that somewhere gave a birth of a wrestler inside him.
Then destiny took its turn, Arif at the age of 20 years joined the Great Khali’s CWE academy.
“It was a very big thing for me to join the Great Khali’s Wrestling Academy in Jalandhar. My trial was taken twice before getting into the academy. It was something that I had never imagined, that I would one day get such a platform. But it was all my hard work that had paid off,” he said.
” In the academy, every day there is a 4-hour pro-wrestling class, then cardio exercises for one and a half hour and then work out in the gym for 2 hours,” he said.
Regarding his diet, Bohru said that wrestlers have to ignore any type of greasy and sweet foods because they can have an adverse effect on the body.
After joining the academy, Bohru spend his initial days under certain trainer and used to take part in small wrestling competitions and performed very well, which boosted his confidence and he started training with professional wrestlers under the Great Khali’s supervision and won many competitions.
Impressed by his performance, the title “Badshah Khan” was given to him by the Great Khali himself.
Bohru has won the belt of World Heavy Weight Championship. He has also won many competitions at the district as well as at the state level.
Today, Bohru is considered as one of the toughest wrestlers in Indian. He has played almost 100-150 matches in which he has 85 per cent of winning record.
Bohru is going to take part in the WWE India tryouts in Mumbai in 2021 before his debut in WWE which is scheduled in 2021.
Bohru believes that a wrestler outside and inside the ring is totally different in nature.
“While performing I have a very aggressive image but in real life, I am very calm and cool minded,” he said.
Bohru said to work towards a goal one has to make sacrifices as well.
“ I don’t like to be away from my family but due to the lack of infrastructure, I am forced to go outside J&K for my training. I meet my family only once or twice a year that also for a week at most. I am dedicated to fulfilling my dream, and I am hopeful that one day I will achieve it and make everyone proud,” he said.
The best part of being a wrestler, Bohru said is the love and support of the people that he has earned. “ Performing in front of a packed crowd is a whole different experience. People supporting and cheering for you is always a great feeling. It keeps me motivated.”
Bohru has done shows across India and in Nepal. He has become quite popular on social media. His fan following has grown rapidly on Instagram, where he has 124k followers.
Even though Bohru has become the first professional wrestler from Jammu and Kashmir, but unfortunately, he still has not received any kind of monetary support or sponsorship from anywhere yet.
“There is no facility of training for wrestlers in J&K and wrestling is an independent sport, it costs me a lot,” he said. “My training expenses still come from my home and I also, spend my prize money to pay off my dues. “
“I feel that if the government pays some attention and encourages players like us, our problems can be minimized to a great extent,” Bohru said.