Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Clad in a saffron-coloured salwar kameez, wrestler Kavita Devi needs no introduction. The first female wrestler from India in WWE, Kavita has made a name for herself since making her debut in 2017.
The Gold Medallist Who Wanted More
The 32-year-old professional wrestler, hailing from Haryana’s Malvi village, started her career with weightlifting. In fact, she won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games in the 75 kg weightlifting category. However, her insatiable passion for doing something different led her to the world of professional wrestling.
"“I started my journey as a weightlifter. I have been an international gold medallist in weightlifting. Still, I was not satisfied with it.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestler
Kavita’s professional wrestling journey started in Dubai, where she cleared WWE’s first open tryout in 2017.
"“I wanted to do something new that nobody else had done (from India). The moment I got an opportunity from WWE, I didn’t waste a second to join it.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestler
The wrestler says her biggest achievement since joining WWE has been representing India and her culture at such a big global platform. She takes pride in wearing a traditional salwar kameez while wrestling.
"“My journey was full of struggle but today I am happy that I am representing my country at such a big world-level platform. The most important part is that I am representing my culture. You might have seen me wearing salwar kameez.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestlerChoosing Country Over Family
The success and glory, however, has not come without a price for Kavita. She has been staying in the USA for the past two years, away from her husband, and most importantly, from her six-year-old son. But Kavita is quick to point out that though it is difficult to stay away from her family, the idea of representing one’s country precedes that emotion.
"“I have a six-year-old kid, husband and a family to look after. On the other hand, we are also representing the country. So, my country has always been my priority. That is one of the reasons why I stay in the US, away from my family.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestlerOne Goal – The Championship Belt
While Kavita isn’t a regular on the WWE women’s roster yet, she made the cut for Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34 in 2018.
"“All the wrestlers you see on the television, we all stay together like a family. We all train together, sweat it out and all those moments are really special and memorable. We all share everything amongst us. You learn so many new things there. You meet so many new people and learn so much from them. We form a great circle of friends.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestler
Like all professional wrestlers, Kavita too harbours the same dream.
"“Everyone has a different story, different struggle. But the target is one. Everyone wants to become a champion. Everyone is here to become a champion. My target is also to win a championship belt for India.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestler
For Kavita, WWE is tougher and more gruelling than any other sport she has played till date. So, when The Quint asked her whether WWE was scripted or not, the wrestler was quick to dismiss the claim.
"“Keep WWE on one side and rest of the games on other side. All the important elements of rest of these games are there in WWE. This is so hard that everyone can’t do it. If you think you are good enough, you should try taking a bump on the WWE ring. I am sure you will take few days to recover.”" - Kavita Devi, Indian professional wrestler
Kavita was in India recently for WWE’s India Tryout. This was the first time the tryouts were held in the country.
Kavita was accompanied by Canyon Ceman, the Senior Director of Talent Development for WWE, who believes the ‘kushti’ background can give Indian athletes an upper hand in the world of WWE. Apart from Kavita, currently there are three men from India in WWE – Saurav Gujjar, Rinku Singh and Satyendra Vipul.
"“We are looking to fill our talent development programmes with more Indian athletes. And we believe the athletic population in India is large. We think there is lot of potential here. We want to evaluate those athletes and see if we can find another couple – two, three, four, five – to bring to the performance centre in the United States.”" - Canyon Ceman, Senior Director of Talent Development for WWE
Though he didn’t make any announcement, Ceman said he believes they could soon start a performance centre in India, as the country is very much a part of their globalisation strategy.
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