Wrestling is a very popular sport and one of the oldest sports in India. Wrestlers wore a langota, a loincloth, during traditional Indian wrestling matches known as Malla-yuddha. In the Indian epic Mahabharata, Bhima, one of the main characters, is known for his prowess in the sport of wrestling. Wrestling underwent a change during the Mughal era as Iranian and Mongolian forms were integrated into the native Malla-yuddha to become the contemporary Pehlwani. Wrestling is also known as Dangal in India. Kushti is another name for it that is used in Punjab and Haryana.
The sport is majorly dominated by men’s wrestlers, but with time, Indian women have established a name for themselves in the sport. India has produced some of the greatest wrestlers who have brought laurels to the nation in International events. Although it is difficult to say who are the greatest women wrestlers of all time, in terms of accomplishments – Vinesh Phogat, Geeta Phogat, Babita Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Alka Tomar top the list.
Greatest Indian Women wrestlers of all-time
1. Vinesh Phogat
Vinesh Phogat is regarded as one of the greatest Indian women wrestlers to have graced the sport. In 2022, she achieved the unique feat of winning multiple medals at the World Wrestling Championships. In 2019, Vinesh also became the first athlete from India to get nominated for Laureus World Sports Awards. The wrestler, who is a cousin of Geeta and Babita Phogat, has also claimed three gold medals at the prestigious Commonwealth Games.
2. Geeta Phogat
Although Geeta Phogat became a household name due to the movie ‘Dangal’, she actually rose to fame after scripting history by becoming the first women Indian wrestler to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in the year 2010. Although Geeta couldn’t accomplish an Olympic medal, she is regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and also became the first woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games.
3. Sakshi Malik
Sakshi Malik is the most accomplished Indian female wrestler in the Olympic Games, having won the bronze medal in the Rio Olympics 2016 in the women’s 58kg category. She also won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, achieving the same in the 2022 edition in Birmingham. She had previously won two bronze medals at the event.
4. Babita Phogat
The sibling of Geeta Phogat, Babita is another well-known wrestler from the Phogat family. She won a gold and two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games. In addition, she clinched the World Championships bronze medal in 2012 in the women’s 51 kg.
5. Alka Tomar
Alka Tomar might not be a well-known name but her accomplishment came at a time when wrestling wasn’t as popular and practiced by women athletes. In 2006, the 20-year-old-then scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler to win a medal in the World Championships. In addition, she also won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2010, which took place in Delhi.
Wrestling: Greatest Indian Women wrestlers of all-time
Let’s take a look at the list of accomplishments of the greatest Indian women wrestlers of all time.
|Weight category/ categories
|53 kg, 48 kg, 51 kg, 50 kg
|World Championships – Two bronze, Commonwealth Games – Three gold, Asian Games – One gold and one bronze, Asian Championships – One gold, three silver, and four bronze
|55 kg, 58 kg, 59 kg
|World Championships – One bronze, Commonwealth Games – One gold, Asian Championships – Two bronze
|58 kg, 60 kg, 62 kg
|Olympics – One bronze, Commonwealth Games – One gold, one silver, and one bronze, Asian Championships – One silver, Three bronze medals
|51 kg, 53 kg, 55 kg
|World Championships – One bronze, Commonwealth Games – One gold, two silver medals, Asian Championships – One bronze
|55 kg, 59 kg
|World Championships – One bronze, Commonwealth Games – One gold, Asian Games – One bronze, Asian Championships – One silver, Three bronze medals
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