She took to the ring wearing a saffron kameez and churidar, with a dupatta tied around her waist, in her full desi avatar; she slammed down her competitor with admirable ease. That woman is Kavita Devi, police officer and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion hailing from Haryana, who is as famous for her saffron kurta she wears for her fights. Her inspiration had been The Great Khali. After a drought of Indian wrestlers in the World Wrestling Entertainment, Devi made her debut this year in August at the championship. She becomes the first Indian woman to have participated in the WWE. India may be able to boast of many wrestling talents Tiger Jeet Singh to The Great Khali, but until Devi, the country had never seen a woman in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) ring.
The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is no stranger to Indian participants. From The Great Khali to reigning WWE champion Jinder Mahal, the nation has produced a number of professional wrestlers who have proven their metal for the country. However, there has never been a woman wrestler from India until Kavita Devi of Haryana broke that drought at the Mae Young Classic tournament.
Earlier this year, Kavita Devi became the first Indian woman to compete in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) when she was included in the Mae Young Classic tournament. Kavita Devi was part of WWE Dubai tryout and thanks to her impressive performance in the trials; she was among the 32 participants taking part in the tournament.
Kavita Devi fought New Zealand-based Dakota Kai in the first round of the Mae Young Classic – World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) first all-woman competition. Ditching the traditional and fancy wrestling attire with a simple Salwar-kameez paired with boots and with a dupatta tied around her waist, the Haryana girl gave her opponent Dakota a good taste of the desi power. Although she was defeated in the encounter, her wrestling skills and ring attire (saffron salwar kameez) caught the attention of a lot of wrestling fans.
In an interview to newspaper after the match, she said “I was a big fan and used to watch WWE on TV. I remember watching all the fights of wrestlers like The Undertaker and female wrestlers like Chyna. In fact, when The Great Khali entered wrestling, I used to wish I could somehow emulate him. Like he was the first Indian man to win a world title, I wanted to be the first woman. But that was just a dream. Never had I thought that one day, I’d be competing in the same ring as these legends.”
Talking about her saffron dress she said “I have been a power lifter so I’ve travelled to other countries for competitions. So, I had already seen different cultures. What was difficult to adjust to was some of the dresses and costumes the girls wear in professional wrestling. I was hesitant in wearing something like that. I still wanted to be connected to my culture and represent India, which is why I fought in the ring in a salwar-kurta instead of the usual costume. I wanted to take that first step and show the world that a costume cannot stop an Indian woman from performing on the world stage.”
“There were quite a lot of people who used to question my and my family’s decision of competing in sports, and a sport like powerlifting. Villagers used to tell my father, ‘ladki ko akela baahar mat bhejo aise, shaadi kara do iski’. Fortunately, I had my brother with me who shielded me from all such things. He used to tell me, ‘Kavita, tum game par dhyaan do, leave these people to me’. So, he never let my concentration waver.”
Hailing from Haryana, Kavita underwent training to be a professional wrestler under the guidance of The Great Khali (Dalip Singh Rana) at his Punjab based wrestling promotion and training academy. She shot to fame after her video, in which she wrestled against a woman wrestler named BB Bull Bull, went viral on social media. Remember that video of Kavita Devi in an saffron salwar-kameez accepting an open challenge of a professional wrestler and a woman wrestler from Haryana who has broken the glass ceiling. A video that has gone viral shows how the Punjabi former mixed martial arts (MMA) champion fights it out at an event held by Continental Wrestling Entertainment, a promotion and training school launched by the Indian WWE champion The Great Khali. In the video from August 30 this year, Devi, is seen battling it with a Kiwi professional wrestler Cheree Crowley and pinning her down.
Kavita Devi gave a strong performance at WWE’s 2017 Dubai try-out. She is an athletic and extremely strong woman who demonstrated a solid grasp of the fundamentals of sports entertainment, and a passion to improve that will serve her well in WWE’s upcoming Mae Young Classic tournament.
Kavita Devi – a former competitive power lifter – has represented India in international competitions, including the 2016 South Asian Games, where she won gold in the 75 kg category.
Kavita Devi makes history as first Indian woman ever to appear in WWE:
Kavita Devi participated in the WWE Dubai try-out where she gained the attention of talent scouts with her strong performance. Now, she will be making history as the first Indian woman ever to appear in WWE. Former Indian power lifter and South Asian Games gold medal winner, Kavita Devi will be making history as she becomes the first Indian woman to appear in WWE.
Major international wrestling events may be filled with many stars from American and European nations, but Indians have also shown they’re not short on talent. While Indian superstars such as The Great Khali and Jinder Mahal have made an impression and earned much fame, WWE’s woman wrestler Kavita Devi is a new star in the making.