Wrestling has been around since the ancient times in India. Wrestling in India has always depicted strength and power. Bhima of Mahabharat was considered to be one of the greatest wrestlers during his time. But what about women’s wrestling in India?
Indian women have always been denoted as someone who will look after the family while staying at home. Moreover, women’s wrestling in India was not something which was as celebrated as the men’s wrestling was. Indian women were not subjected to anything that’s related to strength or being powerful, at least physically!
I have always wonder what took us so long to create an environment for women wrestlers in India to feel “right” and that having muscles won’t make them a man! Why having a strong physical appearance is considered to be less feminine? We still have that part of society where the thought process remains the same and the scope of any growth seems a bit too far.
Thankfully, after Geeta Phogat’s gold in the 2010 commonwealth games, things started to change, a positive change towards a stronger India! Today we have so many women wrestlers in our country. A lot of aspiring women wrestlers in India have come out to talk about what they deserve and how they shouldn’t be the one struggling to get a chance to participate in this sport.
Struggles And The Fight For Equality
In an interview, Geeta recalled how she and her sisters used to train on muddy grounds and how easy it was to get injured from that kind of land. Today, wrestling or even training is done on wrestling mats.
Geeta phogat can be easily called the flag bearer of India’s women wrestling. Her gold sort of validated the fact that women wrestlers in India should be taken seriously and that it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Even though it wasn’t easy for Geeta to be in the position that she is in. Her mentor, her father Mahavir Singh phogat had a vision that was above all the prejudices and social norms.
Something to learn from that man is the thought process and confidence on his daughters. In the soil of Haryana, a state with sadly the most female foeticide hailed a man who not only trained his daughters but had a mindset of “ maari chhoriya chhoro se Kam hai ke”.
The Phogat Glory
The movie Dangal deeply displayed the struggles and criticism phogat family faced when they first started wrestling at a young age. Geeta gives credit to her father for all the glory and pride she brought to our country.
From facing the side eyes of people criticizing a woman wrestler to fighting for the equal rights and equal opportunities on a national level, they have seen it all. Everybody in phogat’s family is a wrestler. Geeta’s younger sister Babita Kumari is also a wrestler who won a gold in the Commonwealth Games 2014. The youngest phogat sister, Ritu phogat has brought gold in the 2016 Commonwealth Games, keeping the dominance of India alive in wrestling.
Vinesh Phogat, Geeta’s cousin has brought India gold in the Commonwealth Games 2014 and 2018. She also became the first Indian Woman to win gold in both Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2018. Talent obviously runs in their family!
A less famous women wrestler but an equal contributor to the women’s wrestling in India is undoubtedly Geetika Jakhar.
Geeta Jakhar is an Indian woman wrestler of 63 kg category who created history by becoming the only women wrestler in the history of Indian sports to be judged as the best wrestler of 2005 Commonwealth Games.
She is the first Indian women wrestler to win a silver in the 2006 Asian Games and a bronze in the 2014 Asian Games. She has won the Bharat Kesari title 9 times continuously. Geetika is also the first women wrestler to be awarded with the Arjuna Award in 2006. She is also the youngest wrestler to win a gold at the 2001 National Championships in all editions which is still a record! So many firsts to her record, an inspiration for us all.
Women’s Wrestling In India – Today
So much has changed in the past couple of years. What’s commendable is to see how the senior wrestlers have shared the responsibility of creating an easy platform for the upcoming young female wrestlers. “Dangal” the movie which was a hit can also be given credit for changing the mentality of parents. People are taking their daughters to coaching centers of wrestling with a dream of becoming next Sakshi Malik or Geeta phogat.
The interest, the acceptance, the love, everything about women wrestling brings such a feel-good emotion and a sign that Indian Women have the capability of doing anything and everything if they put in all their efforts and hard work.
In March 2018, Indian women wrestler Navjot Kaur created history by becoming the first Indian Woman to win gold in the Asian Wrestling Championship in the 65kg category. Women wrestlers like Navjot are the right influence, growing India needs. However, Navjot is not new to such pride moments. She won a bronze in 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. She also went on to win a gold in the 2018 Asian Wrestling Championships in the 65 kg category.
Women wrestling in India are finally bold about their choices and what career they want to pursue. So much has changed but there’s always room for betterment and there are places in India where women wrestling is still not considered to be a “decent” sport for females.
The Young Flag Bearers Of Women’s Wrestling In India
Divya is a freestyle wrestler who has participated in 68kg as well as 69kg category. She had a bronzey 2018 with 2 bronze medals in 2018 Asian Games and 2018 Commonwealth Games, both in 68 kg category. She earned a gold in Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in 2017. At just 20 years of age, she seems like a promising wrestler who can surely bring medals in the future.
We all know this talented wrestler. Sakshi was all over the news channels when she became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal( Bronze) in the 58kg category. We all celebrated with her when she was all smiles with the Indian flag as her cape.
She recently won a bronze in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She also won a bronze at the 2018 Asian Wrestling Championship in the 62 kg category.
Teenage sensations Mansi and Khushi better known as Ahlawat sisters are fairly new names for women wrestling in India. They have won many state-level competitions. Mansi Ahlawat has won a silver at the Junior Asian Championship held in Delhi.
She is also the national champion in the 57kg category. They both train at the Chhotu Ram Stadium in Rohtak where Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik used to train before. We are hoping to see these budding wrestlers grow and succeed and have a name like Sakshi Malik.
The first Indian women wrestler to win the title of Bharat Kesri in Bharat Kesri Dangal 2001. She is also the daughter of famous wrestler Chandgi Ram. She won a gold medal at the Asian Women Wrestling Championship in 2000.
A freestyle wrestler won a gold at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships 2017. She also won a bronze in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.