New Delhi, Aug. 12: If the Nawab of Najafgarh is one of the few to score two triple tons in Test cricket, here is a "Sultan" with two back-to-back Olympic medals.
Virender Sehwag, the ace batsman, and Sushil Kumar, the wrestler, are perhaps two champions of contrasting cultures. They are also products of two equally contrasting games. One plays the so-called gentlemen's game whose patrons lived in palaces from Patiala to Kathiawar; the other grappled in the mud of the akhadas, a preserve of the Marathas and Haryanvis fed on hard rotis and milk.
Sushil was born to a wrestler father in a rural backdrop. Only slightly short than his cricketing compatriot, Sushil stood tall at the ceremony in London this afternoon.
Sehwag hails from Najafgarh town, 3km from Sushil's village, though the cricketer now lives in Hauz Khaz in Delhi.
"Whatever you may say, if one is the Nawab of Najafgarh, the other is the Sultan of Najafgarh," said Abhinav Chaturvedi, the actor-sportsperson of Humlog fame and a friend of Sehwag's.
Najafgarh, located in southwest Delhi bordering Haryana, has been emerging as a playground of the rich with rural plots being sold in an expanding National Capital Region (NCR). But the culture of sports has been preserved by the likes of Sushil and Viru.
The land is no stranger to battle. Najafgarh traces its name to a powerful 17th century Mughal noble, Mirza Najaf Khan, and is known for the battle of Najafgarh in 1857.
"This area traditionally had thrown up many wrestlers such as the legendary Chandgi Ram. It may have something to do with the aggressiveness of the Haryanvi, the sharp probing eyes that they have. In fact, no one knew much of cricket' 'yeh kirkit virkit kya hai' they used to say till Kapil Dev arrived," said veteran sports journalist K. Dutta.
Although both Sehwag and Sushil live in the NCR region, Haryanvi culture pervades the state borders. "But success has many fathers so Delhi claims them and so does Haryana. Why, even Saina Nehwal's father is a Jat from Uttar Pradesh but she is a Hyderabadi now," Dutta said.
Batsman Virat Kohli also hails from the vicinity and so do upcoming cricketer Sandeep Sangwan and lawn tennis player Vikash Shokeen.
The Haryana government ' Viru and Sushil live in areas administered by the Delhi government ' is financing the game of wrestling, offering scholarships at the school level and government jobs and promotions for champions.