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Lodi tournament highlights Sikh-style wrestling

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Posted: Monday, October 4, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 12:11 pm, Mon Oct 4, 2010.

A large crowd was assembled in a circle just east of the Deshmesh Darbar Sikh Temple in south Lodi on Sunday afternoon. They were watching Sikh East Indian wrestlers from throughout California competing on an outdoor dirt field.

Eleven teams representing temples from such places as Bakersfield, Fresno, Yuba City and the Bay Area competed. Stockton and Lodi combined for a team as well.

Wrestling matches are quite different at Sikh temples than they are at, say public high schools. Sunday's matches weren't in a gymnasium. They were on a dirt field east of the temple in Lodi.

Sikh teams have eight members, but only four of them are on the field at any one time. The four wrestlers on the field hold hands while one of the opponents approaches them and seems to do a series of head fakes before choosing one of his opponents to wrestle. All four have to be ready to be on the receiving end of an attack by an opposing wrestler as they roll in the dirt.

The Sikh style of wrestling is common in India, where one village will compete against another, said Ray Singh, who lives in Galt and worships at the Lodi temple.

West Lane and Armstrong Road were filled with cars, some parked even across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to Micke Grove Park.

Lodi hosts a tournament once a year that includes not only wrestling, but basketball, volleyball and soccer. The tournament took place after a morning service and a free lunch for all who attended, Singh said.

In addition to the 11 wrestling teams, eight or nine volleyball teams participated along with about 15 basketball teams. There was also a place for children to run around a track.

Deshmesh Darbar is in escrow to purchase 16 acres east of the temple to build a larger structure when they can afford it, Singh said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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