The word armwrestling conjures up images of ripped testosterone-loaded men sweating it out in gyms all day. The last thing that comes to one’s mind are women one would meet in daily life- teachers, software engineers, college girls.
Meet the women armwrestlers of India- women who train and dream to represent their country in armwrestling tournaments across the world. They come from different walks of life but have one common goal, to be the strongest female armwrestler in India.
Bulldog Armwrestling, a company that promotes professional armwrestling is delighted to introduce three trailblazing women “pullers” of India.
Says Sneha Abraham Sehgal, Founder Bulldog Armwrestling, “At Bulldog Arwrestling we want to break the stereotypes that surround the sport of armwrestling in India. We believe that sports can empower women and move the nation towards a more inclusive society. Although armwrestling has been in India for almost 50 years, sadly the sport did not receive the recognition it deserved, due to several factors. This has begun to change since last year, when we partnered with Igor Mazurenko’s PAL (Professional Armwrestling League). Currently, we are witnessing a tremendous positive response towards armwrestling and we want women athletes to benefit from this growth too. Mamoni, Poornima and Niharika are some of the Indian women armwrestlers that we are promoting. Like them there are hundreds of women, who are passionate, dedicated and talented. I want them to get the support they need from government bodies, corporates or foundations that believe in the strength of a woman”.
Mamoni- Teacher in a village school
Mamoni is the reigning Champion of Champion (COC) of Bulldog-URPA ranking, the biggest professional armwrestling tournament in India. She started training to be an armwrestler with her brother in 2011 while she was still in college. She is a 5 times state champion and 4 times national champion. However, this village belle, has bigger dreams-to become a world champion. So everyday after she teaches children in a village school in Assam, she spends her evenings weight training and pulling on the table with the tube. What does her family and other villagers think of her passion for armwrestling? Mamoni laughingly says “I am the only girl in my village who is an armwrestler. But now I think I have inspired some of the young boys to be armwrestlers! They come and train with me!” Despite being from a small village, Mamoni is proud of her small community who gave her the support and motivated her to get stronger. “My parents, family, friends and village members are proud of my achievements and always give me public recognition. This means a lot to me, especially when I struggle financially to invest into the sport. I am so glad that Bulldog Armwrestling and PAL will now help me in pursuing my dream to be a world champion armwrestler.”
Poornima- Techie in Dilli
Poornima is a state champion and winner of the Bulldog-URPA in her category. She started training last year when her husband Sandeep Sheoran, who is a multiple time state champion and bodybuilder, identified her strength during his practice sessions. He is her coach and together this power couple is making waves in the armwrestling community.
After cracking codes all day as a consultant for a software company in Delhi, Poornima spends her evenings training on different forms, as she believes that it is important to give equal importance to both iron and table. She develops her technical skills via weekly table sessions and works on daily strength training sessions with weights. Poornima says “I wish there were more women in our club so that we can make each other better. Now we have only 4 girls. I think one of the main reasons women do not participate in armwrestling is because in our country there is a perception that armwrestling is only for men. In fact when I tell people that I am also a professional armwrestler they are shocked! But when they see me competing their shock turns to appreciation!” When asked who her role model is, Poornima is quick to respond, “Irina Gladkaya! Love her side-pressure technique.” Like her role model Poornima’s dream is to participate in the prestigious Zloty Tur. “I am so glad I have the support of Bulldog and PAL to make my dreams a reality”, says Poornima with a smile.
Niharika- Selfie lovin’ student
Niharika is a national champion and won the second place in her category in the Bulldog URPA showdown in Guwahati. She is the protégé of Debajit Sarma, multiple national champion and COC of the very first Bulldog showdown in Bangalore, India. Niharika started training to be armwrestler in 2016, when she was still in middle school. Now as a fresher in college she practices and trains diligently under the watchful eye of Debajit. “Every practice counts towards the next match’, says Niharika with a determined look. “Sparring at the table is the most important part of my training. Yes, I do weight training and pull tube too, but sparring at the table takes priority.”
Niharika is young but she has big dreams-to represent India in the IFA world championship in Poland later this year. But she knows it is not an easy road ahead because armwrestling is not given enough importance in India. Like other amateur arm wrestlers, she too wishes armwrestling became an Olympic sport soon. “People do not understand my dedication towards armwrestling because they do not have too much awareness about this sport. We are so grateful to Bulldog and PAL for choosing to promote arm wrestling, because this motivates young players like me, that the future in armwrestling is bright”, says Niharika.
Bulldog Armwrestling will take the first Indian team to the prestigious Zloty Tur in December 2019. Zloty Tur is the mecca for professional armwrestlers since its inception in 2000. This time the Zloty promises to be bigger and better because of the first IFA World Championship and Vendetta Top-8 that will be held right before the Zloty Tur. For the uninitiated, this is the biggest armwrestling gathering in the history of the world, where starry-eyed amateurs will rub shoulders with the professional legends of armwrestling.