When former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat decided to train his daughters in the akhada and make professional wrestlers of them, he drew a lot of flak from his village.
Even his wife, a worried Daya Kaur would say, “Don’t push the girls into the sport. I am worried about how they will ever get married as pehelwans, wearing shorts and cutting their hair!”
But Mahavir stood undeterred.
He said, “Everyone said I was bringing shame to our village by training my girls, but I thought if a woman can be Prime Minister of a country, why can’t she be a wrestler?”
Today, the Phogat sisters are a household name, thanks to their hard work and the vision of their father who decided to go against the grain.
It seems that the story of these ‘Dangal’ sisters has inspired another Noida couple.
A resident of Sector 123 of Radha Kunj Colony, Ramesh Rawat quit his government job in the customs department to help his daughters pursue boxing and wrestling professionally.
Growing up, Ramesh was interested in pursuing the two sports. But lack of family support made him give up his dream.
But when his daughters expressed their interest in the sports, Ramesh decided to support them. Speaking to the Navbharat Times, he reveals how the film ‘Dangal’ inspired him in this regard. He soon quit his job and started taking up small-time opportunities to dedicate maximum time in training his daughters.
To say that they are financially stable would be far from the truth. But the passion of the couple to help their daughters become professional boxers is commendable.
Ramesh wakes up at 4 am every morning. The girls have to follow suit and start training. This includes sprinting, squatting and other exercises to build stamina. Ramesh too undergoes the strenuous training to keep the girls motivated.
His efforts bore fruit after his older daughter, Mansi, won a silver and bronze medal at the State Boxing Championships. She recently played for the Youth National. Though she hasn’t won a medal at the national level, the efforts are on.
“Mansi is currently preparing to play at the national-level next month,” he beams, proudly.
On the other hand, her younger sister, a class 12 student, is preparing for the state-level boxing competition.
Speaking to Navbharat Times, Mansi said, “When I go for coaching to Delhi, he trains my younger sister in the akhada. When I return in the evening, we all exercise together again. His has put in a lot more hard work than the two of us.”
Ramesh added how the monthly expenditure for Mansi’s coaching comes up to Rs 10,000. His wife also mortgaged her jewellery to contribute to it. Further, the work that he has undertaken is moving painstakingly slow.
He states, “Their coaching is more important than any jewels for us. In the past, I sought help from the Delhi government for some relaxation in the coaching fee and for accommodation, because we don’t have many boxing coaching opportunities in Noida.”
We hope that the family continues to move forward despite these odds. Here’s wishing Ramesh and his daughters the very best!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Feature image in-set credit: Navbharat Times