Mallakhamb: ‘History’s Hardest Sport That No One Knows’
One of its foremost coaches and scholars once described India’s Mallakhamb to me as “history’s hardest sport that no one knows.” In an ongoing multimedia project, I explore the tension between the familiar and unfamiliar in South Asian and Middle Eastern sporting, performance, and ritual. Mallakhamb is endlessly photogenic, but images and descriptions of its stark apparatus and breathtaking feats often further dislodge unfamiliar witnesses from their points of reference. In advance of an upcoming Dubai workshop on my efforts to both document the sport and capture the challenges of this very documentation, take a sneak peak at some of my visual work.
I am nowhere near the first person to document Mallakhamb. I’m also by no means the first non-Indian to do so. This former training methodology for wrestlers that eventually morphed into its own recognized form of competitive sport has existed in present-day India since the 11th century. Today, it’s easily accessible on YouTube and even had a video that went viral a few years ago. So why was I still drawn to be a part of telling its story?
Read more here.