When Babita Kumari Phogat won the Gold in the 2009 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, she caused a lot of stir in the wrestling world. She was, after all, the second Phogat sister to take the wrestling arena by a storm. Geeta Phogat had already established benchmarks in the national wrestling scene and had also won Gold in the same tournament. Babita won gold in the 51Kg Freestyle category and ensured that the tournament had two Phogat sisters in the podium. It was the start of a brilliant career for Babita, who had been born and brought up under the same strict routine as her sister Geeta.
Babita Phogat Early Life
Babita Phogat was born on 20th November 1989 to a conservative family in Haryana. Her father, Mahavir Singh Phogat, was an accomplished Wrestler himself, who had given his life to the sport. Babita, like her elder sister Geeta, showed immense potential at a young age and her father decided to train his two daughters to become professional wrestlers. However, it was easier said than done.
The orthodox beliefs of the small village restricted girls from taking part in wrestling. Mahavir Singh had to withstand a lot of jeers and resistance from his peers and neighbours. Yet, the desire to see his daughters succeed kept him going.
For both Geeta and Babita, the struggle was a bit different. They had to live up to the expectations of their father and on the other hand, they also had to face stick from their friends and relatives. However, for the Phogat sisters, giving up was not an option, especially since their younger sisters and cousins, who also aspired to become wrestlers, had begun to look up to Geeta and Babita as their role models.
And so the struggle continued for them both. While Geeta took to the field against boys and forced them into submission in time, Babita learned the tricks of her trade from both her father and her elder sister. She trained with Geeta, who was older and more experienced than her and this helped Babita get better at wrestling. Soon enough, following in Geeta’s footsteps, Babita had also become a National Champion.
Babita Phogat: First Taste of Success
The 12th Commonwealth Wrestling Championships started on 18th December and ended on 20th December 2009. Wrestlers from Commonwealth countries all around the world competed for the grand prize. There were two categories, the Freestyle wrestling which was for both men and women; and the Greco-Roman wrestling which was for men only. The tournament took place in Jalandhar, Punjab and was a big success.
In such a grand stage, both Geeta and Babita won Gold in their respective categories and announced themselves to the world. Geeta’s win was expected, as she had raised a lot of expectations with her performances. But Babita proved that she was every bit deserving of the Phogat family name and brought great glory to the country too.
It was Babita’s first taste of success and it would stir her on to perform even better in the near future. And the next big occasion was almost upon her.
2010 Commonwealth Games
In the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, Geeta Phogat became a household name, winning the Gold Medal in her category. While all eyes were on Geeta, her sister was going from strength to strength herself. Babita showed immense desire and tenacity to blast her way to the finals of the 51 Kg Women’s freestyle category. She had momentum on her side and had displayed terrific technical nous throughout the tournament. As such, Babita had raised a lot of hopes among the home crowd, who turned up in numbers, hoping to see her repeat her sister’s feat. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Despite looking rock solid throughout her run to the finals, Babita appeared vulnerable against Nigerian wrestler Ifeoma Christi Nwoye, whom she faced in the final. The Phogat girl lost the first round 0-2, much to the disappointment of the home fans. Babita did try to turn things around in the second round but fell short 4-5 in the end. As a result, she had to be satisfied with Silver on the night. It was a disappointing end to the tournament for the girl who had shown great promise, but it was just the learning experience she needed.
A Quick Turn Around
Babita might have been disappointed with the defeat in the finals at the Commonwealth Games, but she did not let it affect her game. Silver was never enough for a Phogat girl, but Babita knew that in order to achieve the thing that she desired most in the world, she had to work harder and train even more. True to her rigorous upbringing, Babita got back to the basics and started practicing with greater intent. She was hungry with the desire to bring more glory to her country, and after coming so close, she was reluctant to admit defeat. And she was about to get her second chance.
In 2011, the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship was held at Melbourne, Australia. It was once again attended by top wrestlers from Commonwealth nations and among them, determined as ever, was Babita Phogat. Indian wrestlers performer exceptionally well in the tournament, winning 15 gold medals. Among the many smiling men and women on the podium was Babita Phogat, glowing with the gold medal around her neck. She had won Gold in the 48Kg Women’s freestyle wrestling category. She had achieved her dream once again.
But what separates the champions from the pretenders is their desire to dream big. Babita’s quest for Gold had increased her hunger for glory. She had found success, but that defeat in the final of the Commonwealth Games still haunted her. She needed respite and the only way possible was to keep dreaming further. However, the road ahead was not so easy.
A Few Hiccups on the Way
Since the Commonwealth win, Mahavir Phogat’s second daughter had managed to carve a name for herself. She had moved out of her sister Geeta Phogat’s shadow and had made her family proud. But now that Babita wanted to continue her journey in the ring, she needed her family’s support more than ever. She trained with her sisters, under her father’s able guidance, as they all prepared for their next battle. For Babita though, it was harder than expected.
The first hurdle she faced was the 2012 World Wrestling Championships, held in Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada. Babita was chirpy as ever in the initial rounds, convincingly beating Taipei’s Hsin-Ju Chiu, in the round of 16, by a 5:0 margin. This set up a quarter-final against Risako Kawai of Japan. Babita beat the Japanese wrestler 5:0 again and advanced to the semi-finals. Unfortunately, she lost the semi-final to Canada’s own Jessica Anne Marie MacDonald 1:3. But Babita had a shot at finishing third, which she gladly accepted. The Indian beat Russian wrestler Zamira Rakhmanova by a 5:0 margin to finish the tournament with the Bronze.
Her next test was the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championships, held at Delhi. Since this was the last big tournament before the Commonwealth Games, Babita needs a stellar performance to ensure that she was on the right track ahead. Unfortunately, she could only pick up the Bronze medal, causing many to question her preparation for the big event in the following year.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games
The 20th Edition of the Commonwealth Games was held in Glasgow, from 23rd July to 3rd August 2014. India was one of the 71 Commonwealth Nations to take part in the tournament. For Babita, it was an occasion to redeem herself, to complete the journey that had stuttered in its final phase 4 years ago. She competed in the 55 Kg Freestyle category and only had eyes for the gold.
The recent hurdles had taught her to be cautious, but Babita was determined to fulfill her dreams and win a Commonwealth medal just like her sister Geeta. Babita started the tournament really well, facing Scottish Wrestler Kathryn Marsh in the quarterfinals. The Indians won the round 4:1 and progressed to the Semifinals. Here She faced English wrestler Louisa Porogovska, who too came up short in front of the Dangal girl. Babita won the round 5:0 and ventured into the finals yet again. Waiting for her in the finals was Canadian powerhouse Brittanee Laverdure. But Babita, who had dreamed of this night for the last four years, was not about to let go of her dreams now. She could see her destination just ahead of her, all she had to do was reach out for it now. And that was exactly what she did.
Babita won the finals 3:1 and finally got her hands on a Commonwealth Gold Medal. It was the culmination of her dreams, there were no more regrets now. Babita Phogat had once again made India and her family proud.
Life After the Commonwealth Win
With the satisfaction of a Commonwealth Gold in her bag, Babita continued in her quest for glory. She strived harder to achieve greater success, however, the period after the Commonwealth win was filled with disappointment for the Indian wrestler.
For starters, Babita competed in the 2014 Asian Games immediately after the Commonwealth Games but failed to replicate her form in the tournament. She did manage to reach the Semifinals but was defeated by the Japanese sensation and Olympic Champions Saori Yoshida. Babita then had the chance to compete for the Bronze medal, but lost to Chinese wrestler Xuechun Zhong and finished the tournament without a medal. However, more bad luck was to follow.
In the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships, Babita started the tournament on fire, but once again failed to progress to the finals. She was defeated in the Semifinals by North Korean Pak Yong-Mi in a narrowly contested tie. Babita was defeated by Kazakhstan wrestler Zhuldyz Eshimova-Turtbayeva in the third-place tie and ended without a podium finish once more.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games turned out to be one of the lowest points of her career, as Babita exited the tournament in the first round itself. It marked a stark contrast in fortunes in the career of one of the rising stars of India. Babita Phogat was in danger of slipping into oblivion due to her recent run of bad results. However, she was a Phogat and Phogats, as history is witness, do not give up easily.
Babita clenched her fist, put down her head and started again. She went back to the basics and strived for perfection. She would not go down without a fight and the chance appeared soon enough.
2018 Commonwealth Games
2018 Gold Coast Common Wealth Games: @BabitaPhogat won India's first wrestling medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games after losing to Canada's Diana Weicker in the final of the 53 kg category.#CWG #BabitaKumariPhogat #Wresting #Funngage #SportYourSport #CWG2018India pic.twitter.com/bsHmbi5GFG
— Funngage (@Funngage) April 12, 2018
The 21st Commonwealth Games took place at Queensland, Australia in between 4th and 15th April 2018. Babita competed in the 53 Kg Freestyle Wrestling category and aimed to reestablish her name in the wrestling arena. The Indian was fantastic throughout the tournament and reached the final in style. Unfortunately, she was defeated by Canadian wrestler Diana Weicker in the final and had to be content with the Silver medal.
However, Babita had done the impossible again, she had returned from the ashes. She had defied everyone who had dismissed her as a thing of the past and had managed to appear in three consecutive finals in the Commonwealth Games. This was no mean feat, but then, the Dangal girls have always been the pioneers in their fields. Babita showed that through hard work and perseverance, everything is possible in the work. She achieved greatness through her efforts and became an idol for millions of girls in the country.
A Look Ahead to the Future
Since the Commonwealth Silver win, Babita has continued to prepare herself for her next big step, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She has time and again reiterated her desire to win an Olympic medal for her country and is aiming for the gold once again. Those who know her, those who are acquainted with her resolve, will know that the Indian wrestler has the ability in her to achieve greatness again. But regardless of the result, Babita has already achieved greatness in her Nation. She has millions of girls looking up to her and she has managed to inspire them to follow their dreams. And Babita also wants to do something for the budding female wrestlers in her country.
The Indian wrestler dreams of setting up a wrestling academy for girls, because not every talent gets the chance they deserve. Through her academy, Babita wants to provide a platform for every aspiring female wrestler in the country. She wants to provide a helping hand to the talents who phase out due to a lack of recognition. Perhaps this desire to do something for her nation is what displays her greatness. By investing in youth, Babita desires to ensure that India continues to produce stellar women wrestlers in the future and this is why Babita Phogat is such a respected name in the wrestling circuit.
Babita Phogat Net Worth
The net worth of Babita Phogat is calculated at around 14 Crores.