NEW DELHI: India's latest sporting league, the Pro-Wrestling League (PWL), has been given a boost with the addition of Thums Up as one of the main sponsors.

The Coca-Cola-owned soft drink has come on board as the "powered by" sponsor for the new league which is starting today, the Economic Times reported.

"When one of the largest brands, Coke, has sponsored you, you know it is going to be big," said Kartikeya Sharma, CMD at Pro-Sportify which created the PWL.

Other sponsors include FMCG business Dabur, whose Chawanprash dietary supplement is the title sponsor, and Jaquar Lighting.

The PWL has attracted some Rs 22 crore in sponsorship for its initial season; Sharma reported that the second season was already being planned and sponsorship was expected to increase 81% to Rs 40 crore.

Pro-Sportify is spending around Rs 20 crore on marketing the new league, via television – including 600,000 seconds of airtime in the two weeks running up to the first bout – radio, print and outdoor as it builds up players, rivalries and city team conflicts in what is traditionally an individual sport, to ensure participation.

"Year-on-year, we're looking [to] increase the marketing spend," said Sharma. "And we'll change the way brands derive ROI from sporting properties and the way they want to get value out of sports," he asserted.

Not only will spending increase, so too will the size of the league according to Pro-Sportify director Vishal Gurnani.

"The PWL might add two franchises next year," he said, adding that many cities and corporates had shown interest this year, "but due to logistical challenges, we decided to restrict the number of teams to six".

Those challenges included putting the league together in just 60 days to take advantage of an opening in the sports calendar.

India has a long wrestling tradition and the promoters have given that a twist by including women wrestlers and features such as a "Force Meter" that measures the force players exert and heartbeat monitors to measure the pulse of team owners during a match.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff