Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A defender pins down a raider trying to escape during a Kabaddi tournament in San Jose in 2012. Kabaddi is a sport from the Punjabi region that encompasses Pakistan and northern India.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Sikhs in colorful turbans watch a Kabaddi tournament in Union City, Calif., in 2012.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A heavily tattooed Kabaddi player raids an opposing team during a tournament in Union City.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Jesus Chavez, with a California tattoo on his body, is one of several non-Punjabi Kabaddi players taking part in a Union City tournament in 2012.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Spectators watch a Kabaddi tournament in San Jose.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A raider, right, escapes after tagging an opponent during a Kabaddi tournament in San Jose in 2012.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A defender holds the leg of a raider during a Kabaddi tournament in Union City in 2012.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A huge crowd of mostly Punjabi spectators watch as a raider, right, looks for an opportunity to tag and escape to his area under the watchful eyes of a referee during a San Jose Kabaddi tournament.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Two white-bearded Sikh spectators wait near the trophies at a San Jose Kabaddi tournament.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

More galleries on Framework

return to gallery

Staff Photographer Mark Boster: 72 hours on the Murrieta immigration story

First Person: Mark Boster 72 hours on the Murrieta immigration front

Tuesday, July 1, started like most days do. At 7 a.m. I had a brief photo assignment at the Lynwood Courthouse and while I was driving to Brentwood for my next assignment I...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | October 30, 2013

Wednesday's Pictures in the News begins in the nation's capital, where Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Energy...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest winners

Here are the winning images of the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. More than 15,500 entries from photographers around the world were submitted in four...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | April 23, 2013

Tuesday's Pictures in the News begins with fan reaction to a last-second playoff win for the Los Angeles Clippers over the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | July 5, 2012

In Thursday's "Pictures in the News": People stand on the promenade along the Arabian Sea as high-tide water splashes them in Mumbai, India; Competitors sail in a yacht race...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | Sept. 29, 2011

In today's Pictures in the News, a cat with two faces named Frank and Louie goes for a stroll at its home in Worcester, Mass. The animal is known as a Janus cat, named for the...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | June 7, 2011

Today's Pictures in the News highlights include images of nature's power, man's conflict, and some adorable creatures: NASA releases a satellite photo of Chile’s...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | Jan. 27, 2011

We begin Thursday's Pictures in the News with an aerial view of Shinmoedake peak erupting in southern Japan, spewing ash and rocks  across a wide swath. Still up in the air we...   View Post»

   

Beauty queen from Compton promotes her misunderstood town

Beauty queen from Compton on a quest to promote her town

Shanice McKinley, 25, is praying for the chance to represent Compton as Miss California USA. Los Angeles Times photographer Mariah Tauger spent time with McKinley as she...   View Post»

   

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

Pictures in the News | Aug. 17, 2010

In today's Pictures in the News you'll find images from the West Bank city of Ramallah as Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan; the entrepreneurial spirit...   View Post»

Kabaddi tournaments maintain Punjabi traditions in Bay Area

By Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times

The announcer, speaking Punjabi, called the play with feverish excitement.

The rough translation: “The fleet one with thunderous thighs and briefs the red of a rare butterfly scores!”

A crowd of hundreds, mostly Sikh men wearing turbans in riotous colors, cheered on the action.

Kabaddi — a sport without a ball or protective gear or any rule against holding your opponent upside down and moving him in the manner of a salt shaker — is popular across the Central Valley and San Francisco Bay Area, home to a large Punjabi population.

Two eight-member teams, made of four raiders and four stoppers, stand inside a circle. One of the raiders tries to run across and tag a member of the other team and get back without being tackled. The following melee is part Red Rover and part Lucha Libre.

That the athletes are invariably well-muscled, well-oiled and wearing only brief trunks, has younger, promotion-minded members of the community envisioning Kabaddi as the next pro beach volleyball.

Already, there are world-wide professional tournaments. It’s been promoted as an Olympic sport.

Others see the sport, from a region that encompasses Pakistan and northern India, as a private touchstone in a community that has tended to be insular. They oppose glitzy promotion, but feel the sport may help them share their culture with others.

“Kabaddi is a way for our community to reach out and say, ‘This is who we are,’ and make new friends. It is not good for us to stay keeping to ourselves. Because of our turbans, Sikhs are often victims of violence,” said Balbir Singh, editor of a California Punjabi newspaper, while attending a Central Valley game in June 2012.

Two months later a gunman killed six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin as they prepared for a Sunday service.

Now, more large Kabaddi tournaments are tied to cultural events promoting food and dance and a deeper understanding of the Sikh religion. Crowds are encouraged. Everyone is welcome.

But come spring, across the Central Valley, young men — and some women — will play for fun with just people they know from nearby areas. The same way the sport began 4,000 years ago.

1 Comment

  1. June 2, 2014, 1:16 pm

    My fiancee and I are both wrestlers and we’re trying to find teams in the bay area…as of right now I am unable to find any. Can you please contact me with any information.

    By: summer

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

Required

Required, will not be published