Ritu Phogat has shifted from wrestling to Mixed Martial Arts, in a move that could spell the end of her wrestling career. Ritu, who is one of the famous Phogat sisters, is quoted as saying by Times of India that she wants to become India’s first MMA world champion.
— RITU PHOGAT (@PhogatRitu) 25 February 2019
Ritu has joined the Singapore-based Evolve Fight Team. “I am really excited to begin my new journey. The reason I picked MMA is because I want to be the first Indian to become MMA world champion,” Ritu said. The 24-year-old, who had won gold in the 2016 World Championship, said that she has been following MMA for a while now. “I have been following MMA for a while and I was very impressed by the sport. I have always wondered why there are no Indians in this sport,” she said.
Her decision would mean that she won’t be able to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She said that wrestling remains her first love. “Wrestling is my first love. Of course, I am going to miss it, but I am different from my sisters. I just can’t wait to get started,” she said.
“Everyone in our family is a wrestler. People have expectations since I’m Geeta and Babita’s sister. I want to fulfill their expectations and hopes, not on the mat but inside a cage.”
Wrestling Federation of India president Vinod Tomar said that the move comes as a shock and that this would be the end of her wrestling career. “Trust me, I can’t believe this, Ritu is one of the most promising wrestlers in India. I hope she knows the consequences as she won’t be able to represent India,” he said.
Ritu’s father, Mahavir Phogat, on the other hand, said that the decision is not an overnight one that she has been a fan of MMA since her growing up years too. He said that the family is excited. “Growing up, she was a big fan of MMA. One day she told me that she wants to try her hand at MMA,” said Mahavir.