Wrestling is undoubtedly one of the most followed sports in India. While freestyle wrestling is currently making its way to the top among Indian fans, professional wrestling like WWE has kept the Indian audience entertained over the years. However, the fans have also begun to follow the Indian freestyle wrestling circuit closely, after the discipline caught the eyes of many and has won many medals on international stages including the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

While women’s wrestling is something that was not very popular in India, the scenario changed when the Phogat sisters — Geeta and Babita impressed and won medals on the international stages. Geeta Phogat became India’s first female wrestler to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, whereas Babita also won gold at the 2014 CWG. They inspired an entire generation of women to take up the sport and Divya Kakran is certainly one of them. Let’s take a look at who Divya Kakran is and how she reached the top of women’s wrestling in India.

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Born on July 2, 1998, to a middle-class family from Purbaliyan village, Delhi, Divya’s introduction to wrestling happened when she was only five years old. Her father, Suraj, wanted to become a wrestler himself, however, failed. Suraj wanted his son, Divya’s brother, to become a wrestler, but it was Divya who showed potential when she was growing up.

Divya began her wrestling training by sparring with boys as there were not enough girls in her vicinity who pursued the sport. She began participating in competitions, where she would defeat the boys of her category, but some bouts were declared as draws and according to her father, it was because the organisers did not like a girl competing with boys.

Financial constraints were something that plagued her family constantly. To continue her training and career, she earned money from winning competitions, whereas her father sold langots, which are a type of cloth that wrestlers wear, outside competitions venues. Both she and her father’s efforts bore fruit when Divya won her first senior national gold medal in 2017.

She also became the third wrestler after Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik to win a silver medal at the senior Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi in 2017. However, tragedy struck soon, as she was diagnosed with a kidney stone soon after that, which forced her to be absent from the World Wrestling Championship in Paris.

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She recovered soon and won a gold medal at the nationals in Indore. After a few days of winning the nationals, she almost won the bronze medal at the U-23 World Wrestling Championship but finished at the fourth spot. However, she claimed the gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, which was held in Johannesburg in South Africa.

Divya has been one of the most consistent female wrestlers in India in the last couple of years and has won 60 medals in her career. She now stands one win short from securing her second Commonwealth Games bronze medal, the first of which came at the 2018 edition of the mega event.