Feats of strength

Meet India’s child bride turned wrestling star

Known only by her first name, Neetu was 13 years old when she was forced by her parents to marry a 43-year-old man with mental disabilities. On the third day of her marriage, she went against her parent’s will and ran away after her father-in-law tried to force himself on her. Her second husband, Sanjay, “extended his hand” and took her away from the situation, but she still gave birth to twins before her fifteenth birthday in the north Indian state of Haryana. “I became a mother at 14 and the family’s financial condition didn’t allow me to think about sport for the next two-three years. Finally, I started wrestling in 2011, and in 2014, I won my first medal in the Nationals,” she told The Hindustan Times in an interview.

Now 21, Neetu was selected to represent India at a championship competition in Brazil this year. Though her skills have made her a champion, she still competes to help support her family and her training schedule is intense: she travels two hours to Rohtak to reach a training center by 5:30 a.m. and returns home by 9 p.m, posing as a student to avoid paying bus fees. “[My coach] told me if Mary Kom can win medal in Olympics after motherhood, why can’t you,” Neetu said.

Read the full story at The Hindustan Times.

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