Bengaluru: In his Mann Ki Baat talk last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi eulogised a couple - Chinmay Patankar and Pradnya Patankar – for their contribution to the traditional sport Mallakhamb. 

He had said, “Nowadays, our traditional sport of Mallakhamb is gaining popularity in several countries. In the US, when Chinmay Patankar and Pradnya Patankar started to teach Mallakhamb from their home, even they did not have an idea how successful they would be. Today, there are Mallakhamb training centres at many places in the US as the youth there are learning Mallakhamb in large numbers.”


The New Indian Express notes that Chinmay had performed Mallakhamb at the United Nations in 2017, a first for the sport. Pradnya, a state-level sportsperson of Mallakhamb, is also an author of Mallakhamb Book of Knowledge.

The website quotes him thus: “I started learning Mallakhamb at the age of nine and played for 13 years. My training was at Pune’s Academy of Physical Education, from Balkrishna Thatte and Vinayak Rajmachikar. Many other Mallakhamb coaches also imparted their knowledge to me. At national championships, I used to compete in three categories – Fixed Pole, Hanging Pole and Rope Mallakhamb. I have also demonstrated traditional sword and traditional torches Mallakhamb.” 

He also explains how he brought the sport to the United States. 

He says, “Due to business and job, I was not able to teach between 2003 to 2013. In 2013, Pradnya, a few others and I got together and invested in bringing Mallakhamb to the US from India. Group learning of Mallakhamb caught on and began to increase as it drew many strangers to our home to learn.”

However, though they brought the sport to the States, it is not that it was a cakewalk for them. 

Chinmay explains, “A major challenge is the availability of coaches. There are many coaches in India who are ready to sacrifice their personal lives to support Mallakhamb but, the problem is that Indian coaches do not understand the American style of coaching and the American languages used in the teaching of Mallakhamb. These coaches are expensive, requiring $6,000 per month salary as per local regulations. To overcome this challenge, we are teaching the teachers, who are locally available in the US and ready to work part time.”

It is indeed praiseworthy of the couple to have work assiduously to help take the sport to a foreign land and help it spread its wings.