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Hot-headed Indian wrestler cops life ban for punching referee

NEW DELHI (AFP) – An Indian wrestler has been banned for life after punching a referee as tempers boiled over in a sweltering New Delhi arena with no air-conditioning during an intense heatwave.

Satender Malik was sweating it out in the 125kg class during trials on Tuesday for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham when the referee ruled in favour of his opponent.

Seething with anger and covered in sweat, Malik stormed across the mat, shouted expletives at referee Jagbir Singh and punched him in the face.

“Never before has such a thing happened,” Vinod Tomar, an official with the Wrestling Federation of India, told AFP.

“He not only hit the referee but also threatened to kill him.

“A police complaint has been made and we have banned him for life,” said Tomar, who confirmed that air-conditioning was not working causing temperatures to soar to 41 degrees Celsius.

Vishal Kalliraman, who also lost a close bout, punched holes in the dry walls of the wrestling hall in a fit of rage which caused police to be called.

Referee Singh said he was shocked by the sudden assault.

“I feel deeply hurt that he hurled abuses at me and hit me in front of everyone for just doing my duty,” Singh was quoted as saying by the Indian Express daily.

An intense heatwave is sweeping through northern India and Pakistan, with temperatures hitting 49 Celsius in parts of the capital Delhi last Sunday.

While heatwaves are common across India in May and June, summer arrived early this year with the hottest March since records began.