Mahaveer Phogat, the patriarch of the Phogat wrestling household, is not identified to be significantly soft-hearted. He’s in any case, the inspiration behind ‘hanikarak bapu‘ within the film Dangal. However over the previous couple of months, his daughter Ritu Phogat obtained to know a decidedly much less gruff model of him.

“He would name me up each evening. He’d simply ask how I used to be doing. He would not inform me however once I spoke to different members of my household, they mentioned he was very involved about me,” she says.

Mahaveer’s fear was intensified due to the utterly unfamiliar scenario Ritu was coping with. He had been solely supportive of Ritu’s determination to step away from a promising wrestling profession and into the world of blended martial arts with the One Championship franchise. That profession step had seen the 26-year-old shift base to the Evolve gymnasium in Singapore in February final yr. Though Ritu had received the primary couple fights of her MMA profession, she’s nonetheless fairly early in her MMA training. Though she’s an achieved grappler, she’s nonetheless very a lot a newbie on the hanging points of the game.

As such, the final 4 months have seemingly been a serious hiccup in her profession.

“After my final combat in February, I had gone residence to India. However after a few weeks, my coaches at Evolve urged I come again to Singapore, as a result of at the moment there have been loads of journey restrictions taking place internationally and there have been issues that I could be caught in India. Whereas I needed to stick with my household, I additionally knew that my MMA profession can be significantly affected if I wasn’t in a position to prepare.”

However whereas Ritu did return to Singapore on March 15, just some days earlier than India entered a strict lockdown, her gamble didn’t repay. With Singapore issuing strict rules to handle the unfold of coronavirus, the Evolve gymnasium, like each different facility of its sort, was shut as nicely.

Caught alone at her flat, Ritu admits being annoyed.

“Each time I got here to Singapore up to now, I might get very homesick. However I would not miss them that a lot if I used to be coaching. If I used to be competing, I would be utterly focussed on that. However now I used to be simply sitting on my own,” she says.

“I actually felt lonely. My birthday was on Could 2 and naturally I used to be alone at my flat. At occasions I might keep up previous 1 or 2 am simply so I might play on-line ludo with my sisters in India,” says Ritu, who retains an image of her nephew who was born earlier this yr, as her telephone profile image.

Her coaching, too, had come to a close to standstill. However after a interval of being in limbo, Ritu discovered a workaround.

“I made a schedule for myself. I focussed on what I might do even whereas I used to be at residence. I might nonetheless work on my health and conditioning – I did not want a gymnasium for that,” she says. However whereas she might preserve some abilities in her repertoire, there was an opportunity that her freshly fashioned hanging talents would deteriorate quickly. An answer was discovered for that too.

“I’ve a heavy punching bag at my flat and I would take a look at boxing movies on-line and attempt to comply with what was happening.”

This wasn’t an ideal resolution. “There’s all the time a worry in your thoughts that as a result of I haven’t got a background within the sport, I could be doing one thing improper and will not even pay attention to it. Lastly, I requested my coach (former WBA champion Drian Francisco) to return on video name and watch me whereas I did my drills. He’d inform me whether or not what I used to be doing was proper or improper.”

However Ritu has slowly come to phrases together with her new scenario.

“These previous few months have taught me loads. I am very connected to my household however they clearly could not assist me since MMA is not a sport they know a lot about and since they’re so far-off. I’ve needed to depend upon myself much more. I’ve realized to cook dinner very well. I am studying loads of motivational books and now I am doing much more meditation, that has helped me keep away from unfavorable ideas.”

After a tough few months, she has been finding the positives extra continuously now. Whereas her gymnasium lastly opened within the first week of June, Ritu hasn’t resumed grappling since bodily contact coaching has nonetheless not been permitted. She’s managing to take a look at the constructive aspect of this as nicely.

“Wrestling is one thing that comes simply to me. It is one thing that’s in my blood. Once I get the permission to start out coaching as soon as once more, It will not be too arduous for me.”

The truth that she has been concentrating solely on hanging, she feels will repay.

“Once I began my profession, lots of people began to assume I used to be only one dimensional as a wrestler. They felt that my hanging was all the time going to be a weak spot. However my coach informed me I’ve improved loads. I feel,I will shock everybody with my punching,” she says.

The chance to try this would possibly come comparatively quickly. Whereas One Championship had halted all competitors since February 28 owing to the coronavirus pandemic, they’re anticipated to renew competitors in Bangkok on July 31. Ritu is not competing there, nor has she been given a date for her subsequent combat however she expects to be competing throughout the subsequent couple of months.

“I used to be alleged to compete in Could, however that did not occur. I ought to have competed a minimum of two occasions within the final 4 months however due to the coronavirus these plans needed to wait. Now I am simply counting down the times to my subsequent combat,” she says.

Whereas the previous couple of months have not been straightforward, Ritu is able to compete. “I’ve realized loads over the previous couple of months. It is made me more durable mentally. It is not as if I’ve not been coaching. I am prepared and ready for my match.”



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