HomeAthletesMahavir Singh Phogat: The Dangal King for Women Wrestlers in India
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Mahavir Singh Phogat: The Dangal King for Women Wrestlers in India

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Mahavir Singh Phogat is a renowned Indian wrestler and wrestling coach who gained international recognition for his coaching prowess and inspiring story. He rose to prominence as a coach when he trained his daughters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari Phogat, in the field of wrestling. Despite facing societal pressures and criticism for encouraging his daughters to pursue wrestling, Mahavir remained determined and believed in their potential. In this blog, we will explore the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat.

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Mahavir Singh Phogat Details

Name Mahavir Singh Phogat
Date of Birth Not Known
Place of Birth Bhiwani, Haryana
Nationality Indian
Occupation Wrestler, Wrestling Coach
Achievements – Coached daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, who won gold and silver medals respectively at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
  – His life story inspired the blockbuster Bollywood movie “Dangal” starring Aamir Khan.
Wrestling Style Freestyle Wrestling
Notable Techniques – Takedowns and Throws
  – Ground Techniques
Coaching Philosophy Discipline, Hard Work, and Perseverance
Awards – Padma Shri (India’s fourth-highest civilian award) in 2016.
  – Dronacharya Award (India’s highest award for sports coaching) in 2016.
  – Outstanding Coach of the Year at the 2017 ESPN India Awards.

 


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Early Life

Mahavir Phogat’s journey into the world of wrestling commenced after he successfully convinced his parents to let him enroll in the renowned akhada run by Master Chandgi Ram in Delhi. Over the course of three years, the akhada became his second home, and under Chandgi Ram’s watchful guidance, Mahavir honed his wrestling skills and imbibed a mindset that would shape his future.

Chandgi Ram, a trailblazer for women’s wrestling in India, fearlessly introduced his own daughters, Sonika and Deepika Kaliraman, to the male-dominated sport in the mid-1990s, a groundbreaking move at the time. Sonika went on to become India’s first female wrestler to earn the prestigious Bharat Kesari title.

While some of Mahavir’s peers from the akhada achieved renown representing India as wrestlers, Mahavir, though equally talented, couldn’t replicate their success.

My vision was only restricted to getting a government job, so I couldn’t go beyond a certain level,” Mahavir said. “At training, we were all at a similar level. If I had that target, I, too, could have been an international wrestler.


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In 1982, Mahavir secured a job with the Haryana State Electricity Board (HSEB) after proving himself in the dangal circuit. Representing HSEB, he became the Haryana state champion and participated in the 1982 nationals in Maharashtra. However, his struggles with the points system used in the national championships led him to decide to step away from official wrestling in 1983, after a heartbreaking loss in the 60kg final.

After a brief stint with the Border Security Force (BSF), Mahavir embarked on a successful real estate business venture in Delhi, securing his financial future. In 1985, he tied the knot with Daya Kaur, and together they welcomed their children Geeta, Babita, Ritu, Sangita, and Dushyant into the world.

While dabbling in politics, Mahavir supported his wife and younger brother Sajjan in their successful bids for the village sarpanch position, making a positive impact in his community. Ultimately, his journey as a coach and a father inspired a nation, and his legacy continues to resonate in the world of wrestling in India.

Comeback as a Coach

In Haryana’s Balali village, once lived a veteran Indian wrestler by the Mahavir Singh Phogat. He had a dream to see his children win gold medals for India. And to realize his dream, all he wanted was a son. 

He had this orthodox belief that girls can’t be in the wrestling ring. And in the anticipation of a boy, he became a father of 4 daughters. But one day when he found out that his daughters beat the bully out of few boys, the rest is history. All the four daughters are truly the best wrestlers in the world, winning India many medals and national and international events.

History is created by his daughters and designed by a man, Mahavir Singh Phogat – The Dangal King for women wrestlers in India.


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Passion for the sport: Mahavir Singh Phogat

Mahavir Singh Phogat - A proud story presented by KreedOn
Image Courtesy: desimartini.com

Mahavir left the job at state electricity board to train his two elder daughters, Geeta and Babita. He taught them all the tricks he knew. After that, he took them for Dangals in nearby villages. The fear of losing out to a girl kept the men skeptical about wrestling with them. Also, the strict training regime was so hectic that none of the boys from the extended family could withstand it. The girls took the same amount of punishment, for a bad performance, as the guys. Thus, the girls and their sisterhood flourished. Neighborhood boys feared getting defeated from them. These girls used to train from 4 to 7 am in the morning and again in evening when they returned from school or college.

The popular phogat sisters are not the first or only sister-wrestlers of India. Deepika & Sonika, daughters of legendary wrestler and Mahavir’s coach Chandgi Ram would be credited for that. Inspiration to train daughters for wrestling was partly due to the influence of Chandgi Ram and partly, the Olympic bronze medal win of Karnam Malleshwari.

The whole village was taunting Mahavir and calling him a man with no dignity but he never let this bashing reach his champion daughters. Chandgi Ram once told him ‘what you are doing for your girls, you will see one day that it will bring you great happiness. So keep doing it, don’t be scared, face your difficulties like you face opponents, and be deaf to the criticism.’


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Proud moments of Mahavir Singh Phogat

Mahaveer Singh Phogat - A story by KreedOn
Image Courtesy: Dainikbhaskar

The most elder daughter of Mahavir is Geeta Phogat who had won the first ever gold for India in women wrestling in Commonwealth games, 2010. She was also the first woman to ever qualify for Olympics

Guru Mahavir’s second daughter Babita Kumari followed her sister’s steps to bring laurels for the family in 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth games by winning a silver and a gold medal respectively. His elder niece Vinesh phogat also won a gold 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth in 48 kg weight category.

With skewed sex-ratio and literacy rate, it is quite astounding to see just one Haryana village family producing 6 wrestling champions all of whom are girls. Mahavir has 4 daughters and 2 nieces into wrestling. Three of them have won gold medals at international stages and the rest 3 are championing their respective age groups making a bright future for Indian women wrestling

A movie on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat played by actor Amir Khan was released in 2016. Kripa Shankar Bishnoi, a coach with the Indian women’s wrestling team has trained the crew for wrestling sequences. There are many other legendary wrestlers who have made us proud but this is the wrestling family of India.

Image Source: Forbes

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Mahavir Singh Phogat Family

Mahavir Singh Phogat.
Image Source: Olympics

Mahavir Singh Phogat’s family is a testament to his love, dedication, and passion for wrestling. Born and raised in a family with a strong wrestling tradition, Mahavir’s own journey as a wrestler and later as a coach has left an indelible mark on the sport and his loved ones. He is married to Daya Kaur, and together they have four daughters.

His daughters, Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari, Ritu Phogat, and Sangita Phogat, have all followed in their father’s footsteps and embraced wrestling. Under Mahavir’s guidance, they have achieved remarkable success on both national and international platforms, becoming role models for aspiring female athletes in India.

Beyond his immediate family, Mahavir also extended his nurturing care to his nieces, Vinesh Phogat and Priyanka Phogat, whom he lovingly addresses as his own “daughters.” He played a crucial role in shaping their wrestling careers, further solidifying the strong bond that runs through the Phogat family.


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FAQs

Who is Mahavir Singh Phogat?

Mahavir Singh Phogat is a former wrestler and renowned coach from India, known for mentoring his daughters and nieces in wrestling.

How did Mahavir Phogat impact Indian women’s wrestling?

Mahavir’s coaching and guidance revolutionized women’s wrestling in India, inspiring many female athletes to pursue the sport.

How did Mahavir Phogat’s family contribute to his legacy?

His daughters and nieces, including Vinesh Phogat, carried forward his wrestling legacy, achieving success at various levels.

What role did Mahavir Phogat play in shaping other wrestlers’ careers?

Apart from his family members, he also mentored several other wrestlers, impacting the wrestling scene in India positively.

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