Pooja excited after conquering World champion

File Photo : Pooja Dhanda
IANS|17-Jan-2018 21:42

New Delhi, Jan 17 : Yet to come to terms with the fact that she has defeated reigning World and Olympic champion Helen Maroulis in the Pro Wrestling League (PWL), rising Indian star Pooja Dhanda is looking forward to creating more landmarks in the tournament.

Turning out for the Punjab Royals, Pooja recorded the biggest victory of her career when she defeated Maroulis 7-6 in a women's 57kg division clash during a PWL tie against Haryana Hammers on Tuesday night.

That bout was crucial in Punjab's victory as it gave them a 3-1 lead. The team went on to beat Haryana 4-3. 

Pooja, who considers her speed as her biggest strength, had begun well and took a 2-0 lead in the opening period. She continued to attack in the next round and forced her way to a comfortable 7-0 lead.

Hailing from a small village called Gudana in Hisar district of Haryana, the 24-year-old has had a topsy turvy ride in her life. 

Starting off her career as a judoka before joining wrestling in 2009 on the advice of wrestling coach and Asian Championships medallist Kripa Shankar Bishnoi.

Bishnoi had told Pooja that her body structure and interest was more suited to wrestling than judo. He was the one who

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Before 2009, Pooja had already bagged three international medals in judo, including a silver medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics.

A knee injury brought some of the lowest moments in her life which forced her to go into rehabilitation phase for almost two years.

Not many people know that she was offered Babita's role in the Bollywood blockbuster 'Dangal' but she preferred her wrestling career to that of acting and chose rehabilitation over movies.

" I had given nine years of my life to wrestling and did not want to leave it in midway without fulfilling my dreams," Pooja said. 

She has already defeated Geeta Phogat in real life during the trials to select the Indian squad for this year's Commonwealth Games.

Pooja is now looking forward to her match against Sangeeta Phogat and Odunayo in the PWL.

"It is going to be tough fights against both. I have played many times against Sangeeta and we know each other's wrestling styles. As far as Odunayo is concerned, she is a world class player and a strong contender. Like previous matches, I will give my best," said.