Fanchari, 2018.03.06 (VT) When Neelam Chaudhary returned from Greece with a bronze medal, the villagers of Fanchari, some of whom frowned upon her interest in wrestling, presented her with a hanuman mace and donations. Neelam traveled to Braj on Sunday for an awards ceremony organized the District Wrestling Association. Her parents currently live in Delhi, where they run an internet cafe, but they have friends and relatives in Fanchari and own land in the village.
Neelam Chaudhary has worked hard to get to the top of the female wrestling circuit. She began learning wrestling from her uncle, Janardan Pahelvan, at age 11, despite neighbours who frowned upon female wrestling. In order to get to an internationally competitive level, Neelam had to relocate to Bangalaru where she and her cousin Archana are trained by a French coach. Their coach believes in training girls in wrestling for the purpose of self-defense as well as for sport and says that more females should join the sport.
The tradition of wrestling in Braj is at least 5000 years old, but the game is associated with the cowherd boys. Even on the international level, woman’s wrestling has struggled to gain recognition – with International wrestling tournaments for women beginning in 1987, almost 40 years after men’s Freestyle Wrestling tournaments began, in 1951.
Before travelling to Greece for the World Wrestling Championship, Neelam offered her respects and prayed for success at the Bhagavati Temple in Kosi Kalan.
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