Ritu Phogat aims to create history by becoming India's first-ever MMA World Champion
What's the story?
The third daughter of the famous former amateur wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, Ritu initially started off as wrestler herself. Her real sisters Babita Kumari and Geeta Phogat, as well as her cousin Vinesh Phogat, are all Commonwealth Games Gold medallists.
Ritu also achieved her fair share of success in Wrestling. The 25-year-old won a Silver medal at the World U23 Championships and a Bronze medal at the Asian Championships - both in 2017. The 48 kg category wrestler had initially come to the limelight after winning the elusive gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in 2016.
Earlier, in February 2019, Ritu Phogat decided to make the switch to MMA by signing up with the ONE Championship.
In her first-ever bout, the Haryana-born Mixed Martial artist defeated Nam Hee Kim at the ONE Championship: Age Of Dragons in Beijing, China on November 16, 2019.
The heart of the matter
Although Ritu has stated that she might return to wrestling at a later stage, her sole focus in on MMA as of now. She will soon play her second bout as a professional Mixed Martial artist. A visibly excited Ritu, who aims to be Number 1 within two years, told Sportstar:
"I know I still have a long way to go, but I’m willing to continue to put the work in until I reach my ultimate goal. My dream is to give India its first-ever mixed martial arts world champion. As an athlete, I am open to meet any challenge head on. Working with elite world champions at Evolve in Singapore has really cultivated my combat skills and transformed me into a complete fighter."
Ritu also shared that she took to MMA as she wanted to try out 'something new.' She has not ruled out the possibility of returning to the sport.
Speaking on her future plans on the sidelines of the ONE: King of the Jungle Open Workout, Ritu added:
"I knew the Olympics was scheduled in 2020 but I wanted to be a MMA champion, so when I got the opportunity I didn’t let it go. Right now, I am focused on this. So let’s see what lies in future. My father also wanted me to make the country proud, so whether it is wrestling or mixed martial arts, I would give my everything to make my country proud."
Ritu has truly embraced the sport of MMA and also shifted base to Singapore to train at the highly acclaimed Evolve MMA, where multiple Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champions also practice alongside her.
The Commonwealth Wrestling Championship gold medallist also shared that she has high hopes from her cousin Vinesh Phogat at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Ritu Phogal will next be featuring at the ONE Championship: King of the Jungle. She will be playing her second-ever professional bout against Taiwanese Mixed Martial Artist Wu Chiao Chen in the preliminary round of Championship on February 28, 2020 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang.Published 13 Feb 2020, 15:11 IST