Meet India’s first lady Sumo wrestler- Hetal Dave

The first thoughts that gush to our minds when we hear these two words are heavy Japanese men with sumo tyres wrestling and fighting each other in wrestling rings of Tokyo. Hetal Dave is the name that has surfaced demolishing these stereotypical thoughts attached to sumo wrestling. She is the only representative from India in the forte of sumo wrestling. At the age of 5, when other girls of her age spent their times in playing with dolls and learning alphabets, Hetal was a diehard fan of Jackie Chan movies and was set to achieve heights in something new. When she approached her father with her desires her father admitted her to karate school for channelizing her hyper energy and enthusiasm for something productive. The karate school also had a training branch for judo. The ambitious young Hetal learnt judo as well. She mastered both these form of martial arts and had her first tournament at the age of 7. Her coach, who visited Japan on regular terms learnt a few basics of sumo and taught his students. This new form of martial arts fascinated young Hetal who determinate herself to master this new art form. So she trained herself from YouTube and trained herself so well that she got qualified for the 2008 world championship. All these while when she climbed the ladder all it needed was her own efforts which she excelled in, but t the stage when she wanted help from the society she failed. Due to lack of sponsorship she lost her championship opportunity. “Ladki hokar Sumo khelti ho?” was the question posed to her by the orthodox society.

She did break through the cuffs of this orthodox society when TATA’s gave her a partial sponsorship. Despite her lack of proper guidance and sponsorship she qualified representation for the country in places like Estonia, Poland and Taiwan. Her marquee performance was in the 2009 World Games; Tapei.’The world games’ is the Olympics for the non-Olympics recognised games. She bagged fifth position in the middleweight category. Though she is a sumo wrestler, she doesn’t follow the typical wrestler description. She is beautiful lady weighing only 76kilos. She is a believer of inner strength and states that it’s her inner strength that has helped her win more than the built up physique. Due to no infrastructure for sumo wrestling she practises in the ‘oval maidan’ and her own brother Akshay partners her for her training. Her very supporting father is whom she gives all credits for her achievements. Currently she runs a training centre for sports. She says she doesn’t want any talented kid to give up on his or her dream due to lack of training and hopes that the funds from the training centre will one day be put into use for fulfilling her dreams.

This was the story of yet another daughter of mother India who fought for her strangled dreams.

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