Vinesh Phogat : The Wrestler

Blog By Khushboo Kothari

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Vinesh Phogat (born 25 August 1994) is an Indian wrestler who comes from a successful background of wrestling with her cousins Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, both international wrestlers and Commonwealth Games medalists as well.

Vinesh is the daughter of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat’s younger brother Rajpal and the cousin of wrestlers Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari. Both her cousins have won gold in 55kg category in Commonwealth Games.

In allowing her cousins and herself to pursue competitive wrestling, her father and uncle had to deal with immense pressure and opposition from the community in their village in Haryana. They were adjudged as going against the morals and values of their community. Her cousin, Ritu Phogat, too is an international level wrestler and has won a gold medal at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship.

2013 Asian wrestling champions ,in the tournament in New Delhi, India, Vinesh won the bronze medal in the women’s freestyle 51 kg category, winning 3:0 in the bronze medal bout through the repechage round to Tho-Kaew Sriprapa of Thailand.

In the first round, Vinesh won 3:1 against Nanami Irie of Japan. She then lost 1:3 in the quarter-finals to Tatyana Amanzhol of Kazakhstan who qualified for the final thus qualifying the Indian grappler for the repechage round.

2013 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships , in an exclusive tournament held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Vinesh finished second and won the silver medal in the women’s freestyle 51 kg category, losing in the final round to Odunayo Adekuoroye of Nigeria.

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games ,Vinesh represented India in the women’s freestyle 48 kg category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and won the gold medal.In the quarter-finals, Vinesh faced Rosemary Nweke of Nigeria and beat her 5-0. Her semi-finals opponent was Jasmine Mian of Canada whom she beat 4-1. In the gold medal bout, she faced home favourite Yana Rattigan of England and won the gold medal, beating her 3-1.

At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Vinesh won the bronze medal in the women’s freestyle 48 kg category.

 

In the Round of 16, Vinesh faced Yongmi Pak from the People’s Republic of Korea and beat her 3:1. Her quarter-finals opponent was Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova of Uzbekistan whom she overcame easily with a 5:0 scoreline. She lost 1:3 in the semi-finals to Eri Tosaka of Japan but qualified for the bronze medal bout and beat Narangerel Eredenesukh of Mongolia to win 10-0 easily after referee stopped the bout (classification points 4:0).

At the 2015 Asian Championships in Doha, Phogat won the silver medal in her category after losing the final to Yuki Irie of Japan. In the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Rio Olympics held in Istanbul, she won in the final round beating Polish wrestler Iwona Matkowska, and qualified for the Olympics in the process.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Vinesh reached the Quarter Finals and lost to Sun Yanan of China owing to a knee injury.

2018 Gold Coast CommonWealth Games Vinesh Phogat won the gold medal in women’s 50kg freestyle wrestling at 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Geeta Phogat : A Lioness against the typical stereotypes

Geeta Phogat is a female wrestler from India who won India’s first ever gold medal in women’s wrestling in the 55kg freestyle category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She is coached by her father and former wrestler, Mahavir Singh. She had earlier won gold in the 2009 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship. She qualified for the 2012 London Olympics but could not win a medal. Phogat has also won a gold medal in the Wrestling FILA Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament that concluded at Almaty, Kazakhstan in April 2012. She has numerous other international medals to her credit, including three consecutive medals in the Asian Cadet Championships in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In the Summer Olympics 2012, Geeta was beaten in her opening fight by Canadian Tonya Verbeek (1-3). In the repechage round, she lost her bronze medal match to Lazareva from Ukraine. She has been conferred with the Arjuna Award for outstanding achievement in National sports in 2012.

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Hard to imagine she is the icon of women wrestling. She is a picture of concentration. A star was born six years ago but she has remained grounded. Success has not at all spoilt the young lady’s resolve to reach out to the female wrestling fraternity, rope in more and more competitors and popularise the sport even in metros.

BFY provides training for Personal Trainers and courses in Sports nutrition and Diet in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gurgaon.

BFY also provides Placements Services in India.

“Why should women’s wrestling be confined to rural areas?” asks Geeta, who was raised in rustic surroundings in Haryana’s Bhiwani district. Her father was a wrestler and dreamt of pushing his daughters into the competitive world by training them to fight in mud pits. “He was more excited than us. He had the required knowledge to train and groom us. We had the passion too,” she recalls.

 

There was opposition to the Phogat sisters taking to wrestling. In Haryana it can be hard to convince people. “We had to wrestle against boys because there were no girls to train with,” she remembers. That was unthinkable. A taboo in her society. “We could not have escaped training because the akhara (pit) was at home. There was a lot of physical work, push ups, endurance training. We had to match the strength of the boys (my cousins). What if I was a girl? There was no respite, no excuse, no running away from the hard work.”

The senior Phogat (Mahavir Singh) was ridiculed and criticized for asking the girls to seek a career in wrestling. But the man had vision and was least worried when elders warned him his daughters would not find grooms. He backed the girls. “We had our hair cut and wore shorts during training. People would tell me who would marry you. Your ears would be disfigured from wrestling. It is a men’s sport. But I looked at my father and did not back out. I had to wrestle for him. I had to win for him. I was not a born wrestler. But I feared my father.”

The face of women’s wrestling in India, Geeta, 27, loves her father for shaping her career. “I may have studied a bit but had I not been a wrestler I would have been married four years ago. That is how things are with girls in our society. Things have looked better in recent times but there is a lot to be done for girls, especially in my state.”

BFY provides training for Personal Trainers and courses in Sports nutrition and Diet in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gurgaon.

BFY also provides Placements Services in India.