Martins Licis Learns Mud Wrestling in Pakistan

2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Martins Licis’ much-anticipated return to competitive strongman at the 2024 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) was hindered by a sciatica injury, ultimately resulting in an eighth-place finish and a subsequent withdrawal from the 2024 WSM contest. 

While taking time off from competition to recover, Licis delved into ancient wrestling and stone lifting forms, documented in a YouTube series titled “Strength Unknown.” After experiencing Bökh wrestling in Mongolia and Sumo wrestling in Japan, Licis traveled to Pakistan to immerse himself in mud wrestling. He published a video on his YouTube channel sharing his experience learning kabaddi and kushti. Check it out below:

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Circle Kabbadi

Licis’s Pakistan tour began at the Annual Traditional Sports & Games Festival in Lodhran. He was greeted with a luddi dance, a traditional folk dance performed to celebrate special occasions. He then experienced several traditional Pakistani games, including slap and circle kabaddi.

Licis traveled to Bahawalpur the following day to witness a professional circle kabaddi match, played on a circular pitch with two teams of 12 players. The goal is for the “raider” to cross the opposing team’s boundary, tag as many defenders as possible within 30 seconds, and return to their side. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

After observing a few circle kabaddi matches, Licis was invited to try his hand at the game. As a raider, he scores two points for his team.

“In the wrestling, I am used to, strength, size, and technique reign supreme, but when the element of tag is involved, those traits alone aren’t enough,” said Licis. Strength, agility, and strategy are key to success in circle kabaddi.


Licis traveled to Gujranwala, known as the “city of wrestlers” in Pakistan. He visited a wrestling academy run by veteran wrestler Muhammad Umar, who trained athletes in the traditional art of desi kushti.

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A post shared by Martins Licis (@martinslicis)

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Mud wrestling is a traditional sport popular in many parts of the world, including Pakistan. It is a full-contact sport typically played between two people and requires a great deal of strength, agility, and endurance. The object of the game is to pin your opponent to the ground. “The biggest difference here is that there are no weight classes or time limits,” explains Licis. 

Licis’ popularity drew a large crowd, making it impossible for him to train at Umar’s gym. However, he traveled to Lahore to learn kushti from Tayyab Raza Awan, a five-time Pakistani National Mud Wrestling Champion and Commonwealth Games Medalist.

Awan underscored the importance of endurance in mud wrestling, where matches can stretch for hours. Besides kushti maneuvers, Licis learned unique strength training techniques used by mud wrestlers, such as club swinging and neck raises while wearing a 100-kilogram (220-pound) iron ring.

Way Forward

The 2024 Rogue Strongman Invitational, scheduled for Nov. 8-12 in Aberdeen, Scotland, is next on Licis’ competition calendar. It will be the first time that the contest is held outside the USA.

Featured image: @martinslicis on Instagram

The post Martins Licis Learns Mud Wrestling in Pakistan appeared first on BarBend.


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