Coming from rural Maharashtra, wrestler Reshma Mane is combating the wide spread gender bias inherited in the Indian society and sports. The 20-year-old started off her journey by helping her father, a sugarcane farmer. But, as they say, talented people are like soda bottle. The more you compress them, the more ways they will find to come out.
The girl from Kolhapur is making a name for herself and her family in the on-going Pro Wrestling League season 3. In fact, she has replaced injured Commonwealth medallist Geeta Phogat for the UP Dangal in the ring.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – From overcoming Hardships to playing the PWL 3
The world of sports is replete with stories of athletes overcoming hardships to rise to the top. Young Maharashtra wrestler Reshma Mane is the latest addition to the list.
The daughter of a sugarcane seller from Maharashtra faced a tall task on her debut in the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) season 3. She was up against Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik.
Representing the UP Dangal franchisee, Mane replaced UP’s star grappler Geeta Phogat who is reportedly unfit to plays. However, the experience of an Olympic medallist was no match for the young girl. The star wrestler from Mumbai Maharathi, Sakshi Malik dominated the match, winning by a 0-16 score line in a one-sided contest.
Despite the heavy defeat, Reshma is undoubtedly one of the rising stars of women’s wrestling in Maharashtra and all over India.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – First Girl from Maharashtra to play in PWL 3
Reshma’s journey from helping her father in their sugarcane shop to fighting for honours among world’s top 20 Olympians and World championship medallists is incredible.
Ironically, she is the first girl from Maharashtra to participate in Pro Wrestling League season 3.
Reshma Mane is born and brought up in a family of five wrestlers including her cousins. Since her childhood, wrestler Reshma Mane has grown up hearing inspirational stories of wrestling legend K.D. Jadhav and ‘Hind Kesari’ Maruti Mane, another great wrestler from the 1960s and 1970s.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – Coming of age
Hailing from small village called Vedange in Kolhapur district the young wrestler first came into limelight by winning gold in both senior and junior national championships in 2016. Mane has also represented India at the U-23 World Championships in 2017.
Wrestler Reshma Mane was also the part of the Indian contingent that participated at the 2014 Youth Olympics. Studying in the second year girl from New College in Kolhapur, she is trained by her coach Vishwas Harawale.
Harawale has full faith in her that she has a long way to go and will bring many laurels to the country.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – First experience of PWL
Wrestler Reshma Mane would have never thought of setting foot in the ring back when she was helping her father at his sugarcane shop. But positive fortunes were shone upon her and the plucky 20-year-old replaced the popular Dangal Queen of India, Geeta Phogat, in the third edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL). Geeta Phogat is not 100% fit and does not want to risk here fitness before the upcoming Commonwealth games and Asian games 2018.
In the past, the Indian fans have heard many stories of athletes with humble backgrounds climbing to the top over the years. However, the journey of wrestler Reshma Mane, who rose to grapple it out among top wrestlers in the world, is incredible. As mentioned earlier, she created history by becoming the first girl from Maharashtra to participate in PWL season 3.
Unfortunately for wrestler Reshma Mane, the experienced Sakshi Malik was in no mood to take her lightly. In the 62 kg category match, she didn’t allow any lapses and won the match in a one sided contest. This was the second time both the grapplers face-to-face. They had met earlier Commonwealth Wrestling (CW) Championship trials. Though Reshma lost that bout, but grabbing just three points against the Olympian made her day.
“I am a big fan of her (Sakshi Malik). Her game and body structure is great. When I faced her in Commonwealth trials, I was fortunate enough to get three points against her. It was a proud moment for me and my father,” said Reshma.
She went on to win the Gold in the 63kg category in the same competition.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – Replicating the movie ‘Dangal’ in Maharashtra
Vedange is a small area in Kolhapur, similar to the Balali village in Haryana, from where the Phogat sisters emerged. This is where the wrestler honed her skills. Her journey up till now is quite similar to the story of Aamir Khan and Fatima Sana Shaikh’s Dangal. The movie loosely portrayed the Phogat family, and the struggle of Mahavir Singh Phogat to make his girls a Gold medallists in wrestling. Though, Mahavir’s final dream is still unfulfilled, which is an Olympic medal.
Similar to the Phogat’s, wrestler Reshma Mane’s father gave up his dream as he could not manage his family and wrestling together. He worked tirelessly in his sugarcane farm to help finance his daughters game.
We often hear the irony of Indian sportspersons being subjected to lack of infrastructure made available by the state. Remarkably, Mane’s hamlet does not have the same story. After her early success, Chandrakant Patil, Cabinet Minister from Maharashtra, who also hails from Kolhapur, created an arena and appointed national coaches just to tutor wrestler Reshma Mane.
“Patil sir has built a big arena and they have spent a lot of money, especially for me. They have appointed coaches who know the sport well and have also laid down international level mats,” said Reshma who does not have to practice in the mud anymore.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – Gunning for Olympic Glory
Playing alongside senior wrestlers Phogat and Malik, whom she calls ‘didi’ out of respect, one can see the spark in her eyes. Reshma has not forgotten her struggling strives to achieve the dream of her father. He has been an inspiration and an instrumental figure encouraging her since she was six years old.
Olympics are still the pinnacle of any sporting glory. Ask any athlete around the world what he or she would like to achieve and almost immediate reply would be to win an Olympic medal. In India too, how successful an athlete is often decided by how he or she performs during the Olympics, a fortnight long event which comes once every four years.
Even the Indian athletes who have achieved glory at the biggest sporting event won’t disagree. A medal winning performance at the Olympics or even Commonwealth games makes you immortal. The likes of Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Geeta and Babita Phogat and Sakshi Malik are some of the prominent names who have etched their names into the history of Indian sports.
Wrestler Reshma Mane – If Haryana has Balali, Maharashtra has Kolhapur
In the North of India Haryana and Punjab are the two sporting hubs. Similarly in Maharashtra you have Pune and Kolhapur. Sports have always been an integral part in the day to day life of the people of Kolhapur. During the Maratha regime the rulers and the effluent of Kolhapurkar’s indulged in various sporting activities like Horse Riding, Wrestling, Archery and Shooting.
Today, many youngsters of Kolhapur have taken up some kind of sporting activity. This is to keep themselves fit and enjoy the sport giving them a break from their stressful lives. Be it any kind of sport, weekend tournaments are very common affair for the people out there. Most public grounds in Kolhapur are full with cricket lovers, football enthusiasts, and of course, the wrestlers.
Like any other city Kolhapur also has certain sporting activities that are popular with the masses, but wrestling rules the roost. People from all over Maharashtra go to Kolhapur to enhance their physical capabilities by the way of joining a ‘Talim’ (wrestling coaching). All the youngsters, which include boys and girls, are subjected to rigorous training for the first six months or even 12 months. After that the Talim head decides if a person can actually wrestle in competitive matches.
Along with wrestling, in the rural areas of Kolhapur district, one will get the glimpse of children playing Gilli-danda and Pakada-pakadi as well. It’s an age old game played by children in India which has its own fun and charm.
As wrestler Reshma Mane grapples it out in the on-going Pro Wrestling League season 3, we wish all the best to this young girl. Hope her bouts help the UP Dangal cling the title.