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Send-off blessings

- Arm-wrestlers meet Xavier’s principal

Bengal’s 16 men of steel forged their biceps with blessings from Fr. Benny Thomas, the principal of St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, on Sunday evening before the 37th arm-wrestling nationals starting Thursday.

“All the very best to all of you boys, not just the Xaverians among you. This sport is a trial of strength and winning a medal at the national competition would be extremely prestigious. I’m glad that arm-wrestling has provided you a platform to come together and achieve something,” said Fr. Thomas to a round of applause at the Park Street address. Three of the team members are old boys of the school.

The contingent will leave for Guwahati in batches on Wednesday and Thursday for the four-day nationals — also considered as a selection trial for the world championship in Calcutta later this year.

The team is mix of affluent businessmen as well as players who “are low on money but high on passion”. But all of them are sweating it out for hours as a close unit to reap a good harvest.

One of them is two-time national champion Debmalya Sengupta, a southpaw who plays with his weaker arm. Left-hand competitions are not held in India, but Debmalya has been a four-time de facto left-hand champion as no one from the national circuit had beaten him in friendlies.

The Bengal Arm Wrestling Association gave the team a formal send-off at Chatterjee International on Sunday. The association has for the first time found a sponsor, Bijoligrill, for the squad while the South Dum Dum Municipality has provided the jerseys.