The 27-year-old became a professional wrestler despite facing opposition from most in her village
With the World Wrestling Championships fast approaching, one of India’s prospects is 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik. The 27-year-old has been one of India’s pioneering figures for women’s wrestling, winning two medals at the Commonwealth Games as well as winning three bronze medals at the Asian Championships.
Outside the wrestling mat though, here are five interesting facts about Sakshi Malik.
Sakshi Malik’s husband, Satyawart Kadian, is also a professional wrestler for India who has participated in several prestigious international tournaments for the country. Kadian won silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and also bagged the Gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Championships.
Sakshi and Satyawart hail from Rohtak, a small district in Haryana, and it was their love for wrestling that drew them close to each other.
They finally tied the knot in 2017 in a ceremony at Sakshi’s residence Nandwal Bhawan. Apart from her husband, Sakshi’s grandfather Badlu Ram was also a prominent wrestler in their village and it was his influence that prompted the 27-year-old to take up wrestling in the first place.
Sakshi’s father, Sukhbir Malik, worked as a bus conductor for the Delhi Transport Corporation while her mother was a supervisor at a local health clinic in Rohtak.
They were a family of limited means but nevertheless encouraged Sakshi towards a career in sports and did their best to provide all the necessary facilities for their daughter.
Sakshi took to wrestling when she was 12 years old and has never looked back since then.
Hailing from one of the conservative states of India, Sakshi’s wrestling career came off the back of a lot of opposition from the villagers. Women weren’t encouraged a lot towards sports, with many requiring to do the household chores and help raise a family.
Despite this, Sakshi’s coach Ishwar Singh Dahiya recognized her talent for wrestling at a very young age and fought with most in the village for her to continue training.
Dahiya also used to make her train with the boys in his akhada (training pits) to help Sakshi improve on her strength and physicality.
The 27-year-old is very organised and dedicated with her training schedule. She reportedly does 500 sit-ups a day as part of her warm-up; and spends hours practising her holds and movements on the wrestling mat.
Sakshi also maintains a rigorous diet plan which is a predominantly carb-free one. While her diet mainly consists of milk, almonds, soya beans and pulses, the 27-year-old enjoys having aloo parathas as her cheat meal of the month.
With her bronze medal at Rio 2016, Sakshi Malik joined a select list of India’s women athletes to have won Olympic medals. So far, that list includes Karnam Malleswari, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
Sakshi Malik is also the first and only female wrestler from the nation to have won a medal at the Olympic Games.
The Indian will soon be seen in action in the 58kg class at the upcoming World Wrestling Championships to be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
The top six in each weight class at the upcoming tournament will all qualify for next year's Olympics in Tokyo.
So can Sakshi succeed and surpass her achievements of 2016?
14 - 23 Sep 2019
UWW World Championships - Nur-Sultan