Ritu Phogat’s Life Under Lockdown: Cooking, Reading, and Discipline

Credits: ONE Championship
Credits: ONE Championship
ONE Championship

Ritu Phogat is the pride of India’s combat sports scene. The decorated wrestler who won gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships has had a strong start to her mixed martial arts career and added a second victory to her burgeoning record at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE in February.

The encounter took place in Singapore, just as the COVID-19 crisis was beginning to intensify around the world. With the event moved behind closed doors to protect the health of the public, Ritu Phogat showed the utmost professionalism to get the job done against the more-experienced Wu Chiao Chen of China.

Despite the empty stadium, Phogat performed her walkout with just as much zest as ever and took to the Circle with a fierce determination as she out-hustled her opponent from the first minute until the last.

Following her win, Ritu Phogat impressed the international media as she broke down her performance, expressing respect for her opponent and vocalizing a determination to improve further as she looks to achieve her dream of being a world champion.

With a clear love for competition, the 25-year-old has since been forced to amend her lifestyle drastically. From traveling around the world for matches to training at the elite Evolve MMA gym in Singapore, the young star has seen her usual routine come grinding to a halt. But despite the lockdown, she is still making the most of every day.

“It's going well. I have created a schedule for myself and I stick to it. I’m keeping myself busy, fit, and entertained. I like my functional training and Yoga, and I also do cardio. My favorite lockdown activities are cooking, reading, watching movies, and playing online with friends and family,” says Ritu Phogat.

For an elite athlete, being away from the gym and regular training partners make it a challenge to sustain peak conditioning, but Phogat believes anyone can maintain their physical and mental sharpness during the lockdown as long as they stick to a solid timetable.

“Follow the schedule with utmost discipline, no complacency. Exercise regularly, eat right but delicious food cooked at home and keep yourself busy with things you like most,” she added.

Despite the necessary sacrifice of having to stay home during the COVID-19 shutdown, Ritu Phogat is resolute about how important the current measures are to ensuring a bright future.

“Nothing is more important right now than to stay at home. The world is going through a very sensitive time and the crisis has taken thousands of lives globally. This is very serious and if you don't adhere to lockdown or social distancing, this virus will keep on spreading and risking more lives,” says Phogat.

Although many feel anxious during these challenging times, there are those who have experienced revelations during this unique break from everyday life and Ritu Phogat too has found reasons for optimism.

“One surprising positive is I realized that we as humans can also survive and stay content with limited resources. So I think this lockdown has taught all of us to be content and compassionate towards others. Your lifestyle is a privilege and you should always be thankful for what you have and also ensure you work towards helping the needy,” says Ritu Phogat.

Given India’s vast size, it’s a crucial time for the country and important that everyone plays their part. With that in mind, Phogat was full of praise for the manner in which her compatriots have handled the situation until now.

“So far, I think India has done a tremendous job in containing the virus as much as possible. With a population of 1.3 billion, it's not easy to restrict the spread of this highly contagious virus, so it's a big challenge for my country right now. But so far, the virus has not outbroken rampantly and I’m hoping we all fight this and break the chain together by staying at home,” says Phogat.

The daughter of legendary Indian wrestling coach Mahavir Singh, Ritu Phogat and her sisters Geeta and Babita were the subject of the 2016 movie "Dangal", which documents their father’s journey in raising them to become Commonwealth champions.

Given how far she has come, Ritu Phogat is no stranger to hard work, nor making sacrifices to achieve a goal. Now she is calling upon her fellow Indians to practice both of these as the country, and the world attempts to work their way out of this crisis.

“Please be compassionate and help the old and poor, stay at home and stop the spread. These are tough times and this shall pass if we all do our bit,” says Ritu Phogat.

What's next for Ritu Phogat?

When things do improve, “The Indian Tigress” will no doubt be the first back on the mats, and the first to raise her hand to jump right back into the Circle.

She already achieved her goal of becoming a Commonwealth champion through her unshakable discipline. With her resolve stronger than ever, she’s clearly determined not to let her current circumstances get in the way of her dream of becoming India’s first world champion in mixed martial arts.

ONE Championship recently teamed up with international advocacy organization, Global Citizen, to air the live ‘ONE World: Together At Home’ global special which saw some of the world’s leading artists perform in a virtual, no-contact concert last Sunday, 19 April (SGT). The event drew in millions of viewers from around the world in a show of unity to battle the coronavirus pandemic, which raised over US$127.9 million for the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

ONE Championship athletes like Ritu Phogat have also participated in Global Citizen’s #TogetherAtHome initiative to provide fans with home workouts, and health and fitness tips through a series of online videos.

Edited by Amar Anand


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