Who is Deepak Punia? 5 things you didn't know about India's star wrestler

Deepak Punia [Deepak Punia/ Instagram]
Deepak Punia [Deepak Punia/ Instagram]
Godwin Mathew

Deepak Punia has been one of the brightest stars in Indian wrestling. Since his arrival onto the scene, Deepak has made an instant impact in international tournaments. He is rated highly by many wrestlers and is one of India's biggest medal prospects in the Tokyo Olympics.

As Deepak aims to make India proud, here are a few things you probably didn't know about the young wrestler.

#1 Deepak Punia belongs to a family of wrestlers

Deepak Punia comes from the state of Haryana, and just like many other kids in the state, he loved wrestling. His father and grandfather were both wrestlers, and at the age of five, he began wrestling.

Deepak used to go to akhadas with his cousin as a youngster. But his career as a wrestler took off in 2015 when he was taken to the Chhatrasal Stadium, where he began his formal training to become a grappler.

#2 Deepak Punia ended India's 18-year gold medal drought at Junior World Championships

In his short career, Deepak Punia has racked up many medals. He won the 2019 Junior World Championships, which ended India's gold medal drought in the junior section after 18 years. That same year, Deepak won silver at the World Championships to secure his place in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. He also has three Asian Championships medals, which include two bronze and one silver medal.

Tokyo Olympics: Deepak Punia confident of winning a medal

#3 What is Deepak Punia's world ranking?

In just three years since his Junior World Championships triumph, Deepak Punia has proven to be outstanding. Going into the Olympics, he is ranked second behind Iran's Hassan Aliazam Yazdanicharati in 86kg.

Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, seeded second for Tokyo Olympics, Ravi Dahiya ranks fourth

#4 Deepak Punia trained with his friend during lockdown

Preparations for the Olympics took a major hit, as the country was under a COVID-19 induced lockdown. But Deepak did not stop his training and put in the hard yards with his friend Mandeep, who is also a wrestler. Both of them trained at Deepak's house in Haryana.

While talking to the Times of India about training with his friend, Deepak said:

"Mandeep and I are childhood friends. He was with me in Delhi during my training camp. He traveled with me to Russia and helps me train."

#5 Deepak Punia's nickname

Deepak Punia was a plump child in his childhood. Although the wrestler worked on his fitness as he grew up, the same was not the case earlier as he loved eating. It earned him the nickname 'Ketli', which is a tea pot.

While talking to Indian Express about Deepak's eating habits, his coach from Chhara, Dalal, said:

"His two favorite things are wrestling and eating. He would even finish all the food that would be left over by other trainees at the academy."

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics: From Bajrang Punia to Vinesh Phogat, a look at India's biggest medal hopes in wrestling

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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