Dubai’s Version Of Fight Club: Kushti

My story on the Dubai fight club.

The Velvet Rocket

Article by Sarakshi Rai and photographs by Bernie Debusmann 

“Alhamdulillah! Badiya! Shahbash!” are just some of the words you can hear being yelled by a crowd of Pakistani expats gathered in a field in Deira at 5:30 PM on a Friday evening.


Citizens from Pakistan usually come together on Friday to battle it out on a small, obscure mud field in Dubai’s Deira area, fighting to be Dubai’s Kushti champion of the week.

For those not in the know, Kushti is an ancient form of wrestling from South Asia. It was developed in the Mughal Empire by combining India’s malla-yuddha fighting style with influences from Iran’s koshti pahlavani.




Every Friday, around five hundred Pakistani men gather to watch the latest round of traditional Kushti fighting, but on a recent weekend there was an unexpected twist— wrestlers from India were invited and flown to Dubai for the competition.



Fighters step up from among the crowd waving their…

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