The village of Nizampur in Haryana has produced some of the finest athletes India has seen. Among them is the former Indian Kabaddi Captain Rakesh Kumar. Manjeet Chillar is another one.
Childhood and Early days
Manjeet was born in Nizampur on 18th August 1986. Initially starting off his career as a wrestler, Manjeet was forced to reconsider his career opportunities as he met with an injury and was unable to continue to wrestle. A true sportsman that he is, he took up Kabaddi as a sport and his career and there was no turning back. He also used his wrestling background to become an extraordinary defender.
Manjeet Chillar Pro Kabaddi Career
He captained Bengaluru Bulls in the first season of Pro Kabaddi League. He won the team a total of 51 tackle points – the highest by any defender and emerged as the Star Sports Defender of the tournament. He was so versatile, that he picked up 71 valuable raid points leading from the front and took the Bulls to the semifinals. He continued his stellar performance in season two and was adjourned the Most valuable Player taking his team to the finals and narrowly losing to U Mumba. He picked up 40 tackle points and 67 raid points. Typically a left cover defender, Manjeet’s mere presence meant too much for the best of left-sided raiders, all of whom falling for his tenacious blocks. This time his all-round performance took the Bulls to the runners-up position. Manjeet heavily contributed in attack for the Bulls and was aptly called the Rider Reliable – Always a step ahead and always raising the bar. Meanwhile, his defensive display was of top-notch as well. He in his quest for success took his game to another level.
He sets up pace by getting the team off the block in an instant and stages comebacks from tricky situations. This cemented and justified him being the Most Valuable Player. He moved to Puneri Paltan in season three and was chosen to lead the team. He took Pune to the third position continuing his performance of last season. He scored 61 tackle points and 45 raid points in what was to become one of the best seasons for Pune till then as they were languishing at the bottom for Season 1 and 2.
Season 4 of Pro Kabaddi league saw Manjeet’s performance graph going down. As in the career of any sportsman, this dip in his performance affected his team, Pune making a mark that year as well, reaching the semifinals. Manjeet finished the season with only 24 raid points and 44 tackle points and Pune eventually missing out on the title. Till Season 4 he was the only captain who took his teams to the Semifinals every season which was due to his exceptional game management and man-management. He took a record breaking 11 tackle points in a single match in Season 4 against Bengaluru Bulls to take Pune into the semis. Season 5 saw him donning the colors of Jaipur Pink Panthers. He was bought for a whopping Rs 75.5 Lakhs. He was made the captain of the team as well. However, this season also followed in the footsteps of season four and Manjeet barely managed 5 raid points and 47 tackle points. As the Pink Panthers fought a difficult battle on the mat, Manjeet was fighting a separate battle of his own – an injury which he nursed for a long duration.
Season 6 saw him change teams again. This time he moved to Tamil Thalaivas and became the leader for them in the defensive position of left corner partnering with Amit Hooda, scoring 59 tackle points as well as 8 raid points. He executed breath taking tackles and ensured that the defensive unit remained composed in the matches. From standing guard against relentless attacks to pouncing on his prey, Manjeet Chillar is an exceptional sportsman and an athlete. Although he and Ajay Thakur played well, Tamil Thalaivas could not make it to the playoffs. He continued to play for the Thalaivas Pro Kabaddi 2019 but it was not a memorable experience for the team as well as him. They finished the tournament on the last place.
Manjeet Chillar International Career
Manjeet is not limited to League matches and has given star performances in national level as well. He represented the nation in 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and stole the nation’s heart and well as the Gold, when India claimed the title over Iran. This was his first professional debut. He also bagged the gold at 2014 Asian Games in Incheon showing class and domination. Manjeet won National Championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Under Anup Kumar, Manjeet and the team bagged the gold in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup defeating Iran in a crunch match and what was to be India’s third consecutive world cup victory. He was also part of the team which bagged the gold in 2018 Dubai Kabaddi Masters Winner.
Manjeet Chillar Achievements
Manjeet is the only player to have featured among the top 10 raiders and top 10 defenders in a Pro Kabaddi season. He is also the highest scoring defender in Pro Kabaddi League with 540 tackles and scoring 302 points. His tackle success rate stands at an astounding 55.92%. He also shares the record of the most High 5s in the league which is of 21. He has a total of 700 raids, scoring 220 raid points, scoring 220 raid points, five super raid points and two super 10s.(all stats till season 7)
While he may be the undisputed best in his position, what makes Manjeet a complete defender is his versatility and his ability to excel in different positions as required by the team. The determination of Manjeet was showcased on one occasion when to be eligible for the junior national team, he lost 12 kg in one month. The selection criteria stated that the weight should be 50 kg and Manjeet weighed 62 kg. With a strict diet and extensive training, Manjeet shed the weight and qualified for the match.
This talented Kabaddi player is in action off the mat as well! Manjeet is very fashion conscious and spends a lot of time choosing his outfits. His national teammates fondly call him Fashion Freak! It’s a little surprising that his favorite hobby is shopping! In addition to being a star player, Manjeet is a considerate and compassionate human as well. He feels it’s the responsibility of tenured players to impart wisdom and knowledge to the next generation. Mighty Manjeet – as he is fondly known as utilizes his spare time to train young prodigies and carries on the legend of Nizampur. He plans to be a coach when he retires and plans of establishing training academies. He currently works for Indian Railways.
Awards and Recognition
In 2015, the Government of India conferred him with Arjuna Award for his excellent performances in the field of Kabaddi.