Kabaddi is India’s only game that has exploded in international popularity, and in a short period has attracted both national and international players.
The name kabaddi was known only outside India 10 years ago, but now it is a strong contestant to be included in the Olympics thanks to a constant effort by players and sponsors.
Many names in this game have mastered the sport with ever-growing popularity in the cricket-obsessed country.
To know some of them, here are the best kabaddi players in India:
10. Manjeet Chhillar
Manjeet Chhillar is a former professional kabaddi player and current assistant coach of Telugu Titans, was born on 18 August 1986 in Nizampur, a locality in West Delhi, India. He started his sports career as a wrestler but switched to kabaddi after suffering a nose injury.
Manjeet Chhillar is widely regarded as one of the best all-rounders and defenders in kabaddi history.
He has played for various franchises in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), the most popular kabaddi league in the world.
He was the captain of Bengaluru Bulls in the first two seasons of PKL, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in Season 2.
He then moved to Puneri Paltan in Season 3 and Season 4, leading them to their best finish of third place in Season 3.
In Season 5, he joined Jaipur Pink Panthers as their new skipper, but could not take them to the playoffs.
He played for Tamil Thalaivas in Season 6 and Season 7 and for Dabang Delhi in Season 8.
He holds the record for the most tackle points (424), successful tackles (374), and High 5s (37) in PKL history.
.He also has 329,177 followers on Instagram as of February 15, 2022, making him the eighth most popular kabaddi player on social media
9. Anup Kumar
Anup Kumar is known to be a retired professional kabaddi player born on 20th November 1983.
He had been a part of the Indian Kabaddi Team and achieved Asian gold medals in the years 2010 and 2014, a South Asian gold medal in 2016, and also the Kabaddi World Cup in the same year. Anup Kumar was the leader or captain of the Indian Kabaddi Team.
He is the only Indian to have led the team of U Mumba for the consequent five seasons.
He is also known as one of the greatest raiders in the Pro Kabaddi League, and also International Kabaddi.
Government authorities rewarded him Arjuna Award for his outstanding performance in sports in the year 2012.
8. Nitin Tomar
Nitin Tomar is considered one of the best Kabaddi players in India due to his exceptional raiding skills and accomplishments.
He made his Pro Kabaddi League debut in 2015 representing teams like Bengal Warriors, UP Yoddha, and Puneri Paltan.
In season 5, he became the first player to captain UP Yoddha in their debut season.
His value was highlighted when he was sold to UP Yoddha for a record price of 93 lakhs in the PKL auction.
Tomar has also represented India at the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup.
He holds the record for the highest raid points in a match at 48 and the highest average raid time at 77.1%.
While coming from a wrestling background like his Arjuna awardee uncle Rajiv Tomar, Nitin switched to kabaddi due to a lack of wrestling facilities.
Currently serving in the Indian Navy, he is known as a disciplined and dedicated athlete.
Nitin continues to be one of the top raiders in India due to his all-around skills and achievements that make him among the best kabaddi players in the country.
7. Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar is a known kabaddi player born in Nizampur, Haryana in 1990.
Rohit Kumar had a common affection for the game of Kabaddi. Looking through players like Manjeet Chhillar, and Mohit Chillar coming from the same native place, provided him with the determination to grasp something comparable in the world of Kabaddi.
He started his career in the pro kabaddi league season 3 for the Patna Pirates, where he was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the season.
Rohit then later got chosen by the Bengaluru Bulls in the fourth season. He was selected in the National Squad in the year 2016 to play in the South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shillong, where he achieved a gold medal for his nation.
We know his frog jump to be one of his special moves.
Only in a matter of 3 seasons, he rose to number four in the list of players with the most Super10s in the league.
6. Pawan Kumar
Pawan Kumar Sehrawat is an Indian competent kabaddi player born in New Delhi who plays in the Pro Kabaddi League.
He is a part of the Bengaluru Bulls, for whom he had started playing in Season 1 since his first game.
He was extraordinary when he played in the Federation Cup. During his opening match in the Pro Kabaddi League 2018, he scored a 20-point haul facing the Tamil Thalaivas.
He continued with 16 points in the following game. He has achieved over 500 points by now.
Pawan accomplished 29 points in one game, making it the third-highest single score in the League’s records.
He was the most expensive buy on Day 1 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) 2023 (Season 9) Player Auctions held in Mumbai, fetching INR 2 crore.
Pawan has been showcasing great raiding skills in season 7 of the Pro Kabaddi League. However, he suffered a major blow at the start of the Pro Kabaddi 2022 season when he got injured.
5. Maninder Singh
Maninder Singh is an Indian professional kabaddi player who plays for the India national kabaddi team and the Bengal Warriors in the Pro Kabaddi League.
He is the captain and lead raider of Bengal Warriors and is regarded as one of the best raiders in the league.
He led Bengal Warriors to their maiden PKL trophy in 2019 and holds the record of being the fastest raider in the league to score 500 raid points, achieving the feat in 56 matches. Maninder was also part of the Indian team that won the 2017 Asian Kabaddi Championship.
He is known for his capability of tricking defenders and his estimated actions that leave defenders confused.
4. Ajay Thakur
Ajay Thakur is known to be one of India’s greatest raiders born in Dabhota village of Nalagarh, Himachal Pradesh.
Inspired by his cousin Rakesh, who represented India in Kabaddi at the international level, Ajay Thakur pursued his passion for the sport.
He became the captain of the Indian National Kabaddi team and led them to victory in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, where he was also the best raider.
He also won a gold medal in the 2014 Asian Games as part of the national team.
For his outstanding achievements, he was honored with the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 2019.
Ajay Thakur is ranked among the top 10 kabaddi players in the world and is widely admired for his skills and sportsmanship.
3. Deepak Niwas Hooda
Deepak Niwas Hooda, hailing from Chamaria village in the Rohtak district of Haryana, is renowned as one of the best Kabaddi players in India.
He is the current captain of the Indian national kabaddi team, which is the most successful team in Asia.
Hooda has been a part of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shillong, India.
He has also shown his skills in all the seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League, a popular professional kabaddi competition in India.
Hooda has won gold medals at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, and the 2017 Asian Kabaddi Championship in Gorgan, Iran, as well as a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
2. Rahul Chaudhari
Rahul Chaudhari started playing kabaddi at the age of 13 in 2006, and soon became a skillful raider, after debuting as a defender.
He was a part of the Indian National Kabaddi team that won the gold medal in the South Asian Games in 2016, earning him the title of “world’s best kabaddi player” that year.
Rahul Chaudhari has also been a star performer in the Pro Kabaddi League, a professional kabaddi league in India.
He played six seasons for the Telugu Titans, a team based in Hyderabad and Vizag, and was the captain of the team in Season 5.
He is currently a part of the Tamil Thalaivas, a team based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was the perfect raider in Season 4 of the Pro Kabaddi League, scoring 146 raid points and 11 tackle points. He completed his crusade in Season 5 with 193 points, including 184 raid points and 9 tackle points.
1. Pardeep Narwal
Pardeep Narwal is a raider who plays for the Patna Pirates in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) and the India national kabaddi team.
He was born in Rindhana, a village in the Sonipat district of Haryana, and started playing kabaddi at a young age.
Pardeep Narwal is widely regarded as the best Indian kabaddi player in 2023, and one of the most successful raiders in PKL history.
He has the record for the most raid points in the league, with 1542 points in 153 matches.
He also became the first player to score 900 points in a single season, achieving this feat in the 7th season of PKL.
He has led the Patna Pirates to three consecutive PKL titles in 2016, 2017, and 2018 and has won the Best Raider Award twice in 2017 and 2018.
He is known for his signature move “dubki,” which involves ducking under defenders and escaping to the midline, and has earned the moniker “Dubki King” for his flawless execution of this skill.
Pardeep is also adept at scoring super raids, which involve taking out three or more defenders in a single raid.
He has represented India in several international tournaments, such as the Asian Games, the Asian Kabaddi Championship, and the Kabaddi World Cup.
He is currently the captain of the Indian team and has won several medals for his country.
Pardeep Narwal is not only a star player, but also a role model for many aspiring kabaddi players in India.
He has inspired many youngsters to take up the sport and pursue their dreams. He is a true legend of kabaddi and one of the best players in India.
Kabaddi has become a popular sport in India, thanks to the Pro Kabaddi League, which has provided a platform for talented players to showcase their skills.
The league has produced some exceptional talents who have become the stars of the sport, and in this article, we have looked at the top 10 Kabaddi players in India.
These players have consistently topped the charts in all seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League and have easily become fan favorites.
From Pardeep Narwal to Manjeet Chhillar, Ajay Thakur, and Nitin Tomar, these players have demonstrated exceptional skills and abilities, making them the best in the sport.
There were many honorable mentions like Fazel Atrachali and Kashiling Adake which we couldn’t include.
Kabaddi is a game that originated in ancient India, and with the rise of these talented players, it has become a thrilling sport to watch both in India and abroad.