‘I would not say that I am leaving the amateur arena’
‘I am just keen to explore other avenues as I really want to continue playing’
India's double-Olympic medal winning wrestler Sushil Kumar, on Saturday, conceded that he has met top officials of the WWE but ruled out any immediate move to professional wrestling.
The head of talent Development WWE, Canyon Ceman flew down from Orlando, Florida to meet Sushil and explore options of moving into professional wrestling in the near future.
"I had a very good meeting with the head of the WWE talent development and I am exploring a lot of options as I just want to continue wrestling," Sushil said.
Asked if it meant bidding goodbye to amateur wrestling, Sushil replied in negative.
"I would not say that I am leaving the amateur arena. I am just keen to explore other avenues as I really want to continue playing," he added.
Raman Raheja, whose company Super Sports handles Sushil's commercial interests, said that the WWE had been planning to expand in India for some time now and has been in talks with Sushil for the past four months.
"Something is going to materialise soon...in about a month or so we will finalise something. Today Canyon had a face-to-face meeting with Sushil for the first time. He had come all the way from Orlando to meet Sushil," said Raheja.
On what are the other options that Sushil is exploring, Raheja explained, "Like WWE, there are other professional wrestling bodies like TNA, so we are looking at a number of other options as well. But I am still not saying that Amateur doors are closed as yet.
"But yes, Sushil has already achieved a lot in the amateur wrestling and there is still a lot left in him to showcase. So, professional arena may bring more out of him."
Sushil was compelled to think about moving into professional wrestling after being ignored by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for the Rio Olympics.
The WFI had refused to hold a selectional trial in the 74kg category to chose between him and Narsingh Yadav to represent India at the Rio Games and that prompted the two-time Olympic medallist to move the Delhi High Court to get relief.
However, his plea was dismissed.
Narsingh was chosen by WFI to represent India in 74kg category after bagging the Olympic quota last year at the World Championship. But just about 20 days before the Rio Games, Narsingh returned positive for methandienone, a banned anabolic steroid.
Despite initially being let off by National Anti Doping Agency's disciplinary panel, Narsingh was eventually handed a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) a day before his bout at the Rio Games after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had lodged an appeal with the CAS.
Eventually nobody represented India in the 74kg category.