After years of struggle, eons of received skepticism and many moons waiting for the world to catch up, it’s nice when you finally get treated like royalty.
The now world famous Indian wrestling sisters Geeta and Babita are warmly received on television interviews and the Indian viewers at large for the stars that their body of work has proven them to be.
Geeta Phogat is a female wrestler from India who won India’s first ever gold medal in women’s wrestling in the 55 kg freestyle category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and as of this writing is sponsored by the JSW Sports Excellence Program.
She is the first-ever Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Olympics.
Phogat won a gold medal in the Wrestling FILA Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament that concluded at Almaty, Kazakhstan in April 2012. She has undergone rigorous training at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, (NSNIS), Patiala, under the guidance of chief coach O.P. Yadav and foreign expert Ryan Dobo. She has numerous other international medals to her credit, including three consecutive medals in the Asian Cadet Championships in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Her sister Babita won a silver medal in 51 kg freestyle wrestling at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It was followed by a bronze in 2012 World Wrestling Championship. Perseverance and hard work paid off when Babita won gold in the in the 55 kg category at 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Their fame is spreading and their acceptance in India is encouraging.
The respected news source timesofindia.indiatimes.com reported that the famous actor “Aamir Khan had two special visitors last week. Babita and Geeta Phogat, daughters of wrestler Mahavir Phogat, flew down to the city from Haryana to meet the actor. Aamir’s much awaited biopic, Dangal, is based on their father’s life. Aamir’s spokesperson confirmed the news, “Aamir was very keen to meet them, and all of their schedules finally matched. So the girls came down to Mumbai. Aamir was a gracious host and ensured that they were taken care of. It was an emotional meeting for the trio. They discussed Mahavir’s life, what he had taught the girls, and more.”
In a land that much of the west struggles to understand, women’s wrestling is growing and doing well.
The above site timesofindia.indiatimes.com continues to enlighten us. “A 17-year-old Uttarakhand girl stunned wrestlers and spectators alike here when she pinned down a well-known male wrestler Sonu Pehlwan, who was not only older and more experienced, but also 16 kg heavier.[adToAppearHere]
As wrestlers from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and other states participated in an event organized annually in Jogi Navada locality of the city, it was teenager Neha Tomar from Rudrapur who stole the show.
On Friday evening, as spectators at a jam-packed ground here enjoyed bouts one after the other, cheering for their favorites, male wrestlers were in for a surprise when a teenaged girl participant challenged them. Initially they tried to ignore her, but she continued challenging them. After a while, wrestler Sonu Pehlwan, also hailing from Uttarakhand, accepted her challenge.
Suresh Rathore, president of Jogi Navada Ramlila committee which organizes the event, said, “This was probably the first time since we started the wrestling event in 1972 when a woman wrestled a man. Her win is another first.”[adToAppearHere]
As recent as July 20, 2015, the informative site newindianexpress.com informs, “Eight Indian women grapplers will participate in the fifth Cup of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan to be held at Astana from July 23 to 26 to prepare for the World championships.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) selected the players on the basis of their performance during the trials conducted at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Lucknow on July 6.
Some top wrestlers will represent India at the tourney, including 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Vinesh (48 kg), 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medalist Lalita Sehrawat (55 kg) and 2011 Commonwealth Championship gold winner Sakshi Malik (58 kg).”
“The tournament will be an ideal opportunity for our women’s team to get international exposure before going into the World Championship. We will not leave any stone unturned in preparation of our wrestlers as we want more and more female wrestlers to qualify for Rio Olympics from the first qualification event (Worlds),” WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said.
The Phogat connection seems evident everywhere.
Vinesh Phogat represented India in the women’s freestyle 48 kg category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and won the gold medal. She also won the bronze medal in the same category at 2014 Asian Games.
She is the cousin of wrestler Geeta Phogat. Vinesh is the daughter of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat’s youger brother Rajpal.
Also making a splash and sending shock waves around the world is Sonika Kaliraman.
She is the daughter of former wrestler Chandgi Ram. She married US-based businessman, Siddharth Malik. She was the member of Doha Asian Game’s Indian squad. She was also a contestant of Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi (season 2) and participated in Bigg Boss (season 5).
There is more great news coming from India regarding the rise of women’s wrestling.
Thanks to timesofindia.indiatimes.com we learn, “The Wrestling Federation of India joined the ‘league bandwagon’ as it launched the Pro Wrestling League (PWL).
The PWL, scheduled from November 8-29, will witness world’s top 66 wrestlers including eight current world champions. Around 20 Olympic medalists will represent six city-based franchises.
Wrestling icons of the country like two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar, World Championship bronze medalist Bajrang, the famous Phogat sisters Geeta and Babita and Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medalist Geetika Jakhar walked the ramp in ‘Spartan-like’ warrior outfits at the launch of the league.”
The butterfly effect is the phenomenon whereby a minor change in circumstances can cause a large change in outcome. As the Phogat sisters continue to spread their wings, the power of their efforts continue to affect their country and women’s wrestling around the world.
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Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling.com, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.