Sanjay Singh: The Brij Bhushan Loyalist Whose WFI Win Forced Wrestler Sakshi Malik To Retire

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh may have left the building, but his loyalist Sanjay Singh will continue in his steed as the new Wrestling Federation of India President. His 40-7 win over Anita Sheoran, though, prompted Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik to hang up her boots. So who exactly is he?

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh (left) and Sanjay Singh (right)

“If Brij Bhushan Singh’s business partner and a close aide is elected as the president of WFI, (then) I quit wrestling,” said an unconsolable Sakshi Malik at the Press Club Of India on December 21, 2023, witnessing the unveiling of Sanjay Singh as the new Wrestling Federation of India President from afar. For months, Malik and her fellow wrestlers had attempted to hold Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing WFI President, accountable for his misdeeds, only to see their efforts reach a dead end when the Bhartiya Janta Party MP's close aid and nominee beat Commonwealth gold medalist Anita Sheoran in the elections. (More Sports News)

Not too far away, Sanjay Singh and his acolytes celebrated his triumph at Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's bungalow. Brij Bhushan had ominously deemed his friend's victory a formality a day before the results came out. 

“The election was in our hands from the first day itself," Sanjay Singh said later. "Voting happened and whatever was supposed to happen, happened. The truth prevailed.

“We had faith because of the amount of work we have done for wrestlers. Pehelwaan jaante hain yahi se hi unka bhala hone wala hai. (The wrestlers know that only we can take care of their needs.) They know that everything was shut for the last 11 months. Wrestlers weren’t able to compete, everything was shut and all the wrestlers had become forlorn. Those conditions were enough to tell us that victory was ours.”

“This isn’t my victory, this is the victory of the country’s wrestlers,” added Brij Bhushan. The BJP MP had been accused by several Indian female wrestlers of sexual harassment, including one minor, and was deemed liable by the Delhi Police for prosecution. 

Known colloquially as 'Bablu' in the wrestling circuit, Sanjay Singh's association with Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh goes back three decades, according to an interview given to BBC by the new WFI President himself. Reports confirm the same, claiming that when the Uttar Pradesh Wrestling Federation was formed, Sanjay Singh acted as the Vice President in Brij Bhushan's presidency. He was also a member of the previous WFI Executive Committee and had served as the Joint Secretary since 2009. 

“I have been associated with the WFI for 12 years. I first joined the federation as an executive member, by winning elections in 2011. Eight years later, I became the joint secretary," confirmed Sanjay Singh in an interview with The Quint. 

Sanjay Singh also credits his father, Nand Lal Singh, for evoking his interest in wrestling. Nand Lal, as per reports, used to organize village wrestling bouts, a vocation that he would impart to his son.