Ritu Phogat competed in her second ONE championship fight at the King of the Jungle event, which was headlined by Stamp Fairtex and Janet Todd.
Phogat’s opponent was the dangerous “Miss Red” Wu Chiao Chen. Wu Chiao Chen was undefeated going into this bout. That stat while not uncommon in the early part of a martial artist’s career, highlights the level of competition that Phogat was up against. For all three rounds, Phogat managed to exercise her superior wrestling and take Wu Chiao Chen down to the ground. Phogat made the takedowns appear effortless. As the match rolled on, Phogat was not able to secure the finish, as she had in her first outing, but Wu was not able to mount any significant level of offence. Ultimately, the judges ruled a unanimous decision victory in favour of Ritu Phogat.
Her family is wrestling royalty. Her father and first coach is Mahavir Phogat, who groomed his daughters, including Ritu to become high level wrestlers. Ritu Phogat, along with her sisters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari have all acquired commonwealth gold. Her cousin Vinesh Phogat is also a commonwealth calibre wrestler. A lesser known fact is that at one point, Ritu and Vinesh Phogat wrestled each other in competition for a place in the Indian team.
Ritu Phogat hails from India. For better or worse, India is largely a one-sport nation. Most sports fans follow cricket and little else. An average person on the road might simply give you a blank stare. However, that appears to be changing. The movie Dangal was released in India in 2016. The star of Dangal was one of India’s most popular actors, Aamir Khan. Dangal was based on an Indian family that was steeped in wrestling. That family, of course was the Phogat family. Fittingly, Ritu Phogat’s walkout music is adopted from the Dangal movie.
In her post fight speech, Phogat expressed herself on the microphone. She went on to thank the multitudes of Indian fans watching from home. She thanked them for the blessings and she thanked them for the love.
Ritu Phogat is one of India’s emerging stars along with other names in One FC such as Himanshu Kaushik, Arjan Singh Bhullar, Asha Roka and Puja Tomar. Although it is still early days, her two victories may prove to be foreshadowing of things to come.