At the age of 25, Ritu Phogat is already a known name in the world of Indian combat sports. Not only did she win a gold medal in 2016 at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, but she also earned her stripes in the Pro Wrestling League thereafter.
And now, she's all set to foray into the world of Mixed Martial Arts with her first fight. Phogat, who hails from a family of wrestlers, says that training for wrestling and MMA aren't all that different:
"It's actually pretty similar if you go to see. You can't punch and kick in wrestling, and you can in MMA. That's the only difference. I studied Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and boxing under the best coaches."
When asked about her favorite MMA fighters, she names Demetrious Johnson and Xiong Jingnan, both of whom are part of ONE, the promotion she will debut for, on 16th November. She takes on Kim Nam-hee in Beijing, in the Atomweight Category. This will be a massive step for her career, considering that she was already an established name in wrestling:
"I have always been an MMA fan, but I did not know how to go about staring a career in this world until recently. When I got this opportunity, I could not resist. That's when I decided that I'll embark on a new career."
Phogat wants to make Mixed Martial Arts more popular in India than it is right now. She's already a source of inspiration to countless young women who want to follow in her footsteps and make an impression on the global stage:
"I'm always thrilled when someone calls me an inspiration. All I'll say is that whatever you may choose to do, do it with dedication and focus, and you'll be successful".
Ritu Phogat feels that her upcoming fight at 'Age of Dragons' has the whole nation watching with anticipation and excitement and believes that the sport will become very popular, very soon indeed:
"I entered the Mixed Martial Arts world to become the first female World Champion. That's my sole focus right now. After this fight, I'll continue my training."
The daughter of Mahavir Singh Phogat, Ritu and her sisters are already household names in India. More so since the hit film -'Dangal' was made about their life. Ritu Phogat gushes when asked about the blockbuster:
"The movie changed our life. Before this, only people associated with sports knew about us. Now wherever we go, people recognize us and take autographs. I like that! I've even met Aamir Khan two or three times. I loved meeting him. He's a very good man."
Ritu Phogat is ready to conquer the world! In conclusion, she leaves her Indian fans with a message:
"Show me the same love in MMA that you showed me in wrestling and I'll make you a promise. I will make my country and family proud."Published 15 Nov 2019, 18:04 IST