Beyond Dangal: The real story of Geeta Phogat's struggle

Geeta Phogat became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

You have watched Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal and appreciated it as well. The film chronicles the tale of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, who defies social norms and trains his daughters for wrestling. Starring Aamir Khan, the film has Fatima Sana Sheikh playing Geeta and Sanya Malhotra plays Babita.

Within two days of release, Geeta Phogat has become the most searched celebrity on Google. But before Dangal narrated her struggle to sporting glory, the 28-year-old freestyle wrestler has brought laurels to India at various international events.

Who is Geeta Phogat?

Born on December 15, 1988, Geeta belongs to a Jat family in Bhiwani district of Haryana. She was trained in wrestling by her father Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former wrestler himself. She has a sister Babita Kumari, who is also a wrestler, having won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. The Phogat sisters have a cousin named Vinesh who clinched a gold in the women’s 48kg wrestling event at the Glasgow CWG Games.

Geeta shot to fame after she won India’s first ever gold medal in 55-kg women’s wrestling at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi. She won two bronze medals at the Asian Wrestling Championships held in 2012 and 2015 respectively. She represented India at the 2012 London Olympics, but crashed out in the very first round.

Although she made it to the repechage round, Geeta could not clinch the bronze for India. She was recently appointed as deputy superintendent of police (DSP) in Haryana Police. Geeta is married to wrestler Pawan Kumar who represented India at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the 86-kg category and won a bronze medal. Geeta is currently preparing for the second season of the Pro-Wrestling League. She and her sister Babita will represent the Uttar Pradesh Warriors.

Author Saurabh Duggal in his latest book ‘Akhada: The Authorised Biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat’ wrote that it was Geeta’s mother Daya Kaur and not the former wrestler who was disappointed to have given birth to a girl. In fact, Phogat Sr cheered and predicted that his newly-born daughter will make the nation proud one day.

Isn’t her tale inspiring enough?