It looks like things are changing for good in the wrestling world. Standing true to the Dangal dialogue, “Choriyaan choron se kam hain ke?”, the Maharashtra Kesari competition this year, allowed women wrestlers to participate.
Since its inception in 1961, Maharashtra Kesari has been a male dominant competition, and this was the first time that the competition saw women participants. The organisers, this year, wanted the competition in Pune to be more inclusive.
“Women are getting a platform to showcase their talent in every sector today. Many women have earned accolades in wrestling at international level. Therefore, we decided to rope in two women wrestlers this time to participate in a promotional event. This is the 60th year of the state-level wrestling competition and 42nd year of the Maharashtra Kesari tournament. We are glad that we got an opportunity to give them a chance in this important year,” said Shantaram Ingawle, an organizer of the championship which is held in different cities of Maharashtra, once a year.
Ankita Gund and Harshada Jadhav were the two women wrestlers from Maharashtra who were chosen for the promotional match.
“It was a female wrestler who got India a medal in the Olympics. But even then, we never are truly acknowledged in the state. We are glad that we got the opportunity to play on this stage. We could prove that we are no less than the men who participate in this competition each year,” said Ankita who emerged as the winner of the match between her and Harshada.
Though elated by this wonderful attempt on the part of the organizers, the audience wanted that this should not remain restricted to the inclusion of merely two women wrestlers that too in a promotional event.
“Either they [women] should get to compete in this match, or a separate competition of similar stature should be held for them. The struggle of women wrestlers in the country is real. This is the time to bring a change in the sport,” said one of the spectators.
A small start, but a start nonetheless.
Information and cover image sourced from punemirror