Strong Arm Tactics

Twenty-six-year-old Ahmed Faizan Ali is a multi-faceted sportsman who has, over the years, taken on both football and arm-wrestling, also known as Panja. The young athlete, who hails from King Koti, has managed in five short years, to bag a bronze medal at his debut tournament, the Telangana Arm-Wrestling Championship in 2018 and went onto compete at the All-India Nationals and at the Pro Panja League in 2022.

Faizan grew up in an exceptionally supportive family who encouraged him to live his dreams. His father worked in Saudi Arabia, and his mother is a homemaker. Faizan’s brother, who runs a pre-primary school, especially took the time out to mentor him over the years. He says, “In one way or another, they saw me progress which in turn has given me a reason to sustain my career.”

Faizan would challenge his school and college mates to a friendly game of panja. A two-person sport, he considers tremendous patience and concentration as important attributes one needs to win. But, it was football he had decided to pursue professionally. However, an unfortunate accident during a practice match in 2017 put an end to his football career. After scoring a goal, Faizan tried to do a somersault and landed on his back. The injury left him unable to play pro football.

He subsequently battled depression and to overcome it, he decided to focus on keeping himself fit by indulging in extensive workout programs at his gym. And before he knew it, he found armwrestling again. While helping create an admissions banner for his brother’s school at a local shop, he chanced upon a poster for the Telangana Arm-Wrestling Championship. And since then, there was no looking back. “If there is anything that has kept my sports spirit up, it is arm-wrestling,” Faizan states matter-offactly.

He is a multi-talented young man. Besides arm-wrestling, his other passion is creating music, which has kept him going. He is currently pursuing a course in Hindustani vocals at the Thyagaraja Government College of Music and Dance and is writing his own music which he composes in rap. He likens rap music to poetry. In fact, at the 2022 Pro Panja League, Faizan sang the National Anthem live which he is grateful for. Currently, he is preparing for the 2023 Pro Panja League, which began on July 28. Going forward he aims to give both his passions the same attention. “In the coming years I see myself as an arm-wrestler and an artist,” a hopeful Faizan concludes.


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