Neetu Sarkar had been forcibly married to a 43 year old mentally challenged man at the tender age of 13. She somehow mustered the dare and escaped from this ugly relationship in three days. But her parents once again got her married married. However, this time, the man who married her was a kind person. He loved and supported her. Within a year, at the age of 14, she was a mother to twin sons. Her second husband, Sanjay, was unemployed and they had to rely on his mother’s pension for their day-to-day needs. To make ends meet, Neetu started working as a construction labourer and did a series of odd jobs.
In order to overcome poverty, Neetu started training at the male-dominated akhara (wrestling pit). Earlier she was banned from entering the place. The villagers were shocked that a woman wanted to take up wrestling. They tried to discourage her and her husband from perusing wrestling. Her mother-in-law was also against her decision to be a wrestler. But Neetu was completely determined. “I used to be fascinated with wrestling even when I was a child. When the 2010 Commonwealth Games were taking place in India, I was watching wrestling on TV and suddenly it struck me that I should take this up as a career,” says Neetu. At the time she decided to take up wrestling as a career she weighed over 80 kg. To lose weight and become fit, she started rigorous training. She used to wake up at 3 am and going for a run.
She started formal training at Rohtak. She would finish her run and come back home before the others in the village woke up. Neetu’s hard work got appreciated in 2011 by the coach Ziley Sing. “He told me if Mary Kom could win a medal after motherhood, so could I. And that gave me a lot of hope,” she says.
Neetu Sarkar’s back breaking work paid off soon as she won a silver medal in the 48 kg category in the 35th National Games in Kerala. She has also represented the country in the World Junior Wrestling Championships in Brazil. Since then, there has been no looking back. Neetu proudly tells, “Now, the very villagers who were angry with me for choosing wrestling, are proud of my achievements. The people at the akhara have felicitated me. And I see parents telling their daughters to become like me. This gives me a lot of happiness,”
Neetu Sarkar’s biggest idol is wrestler Sushil Kumar. She is now being supported by the Sushil4Sports Foundation. Very happily Neetu tells, “ Sushil4Sports Foundation has sponsored my stay in Rohtak for two months so I don’t have to travel up and down every day. Now, I go home on weekends. My family is my biggest support. I couldn’t have made it this far without my husband. And my boys, they make it so much easier by not insisting that I should always be with them. I feel I’ve made the right decision when I see the pride on their faces,”
Neetu Sarkar’s story shows that any woman can do wonders only if she is given an opportunity to pursue dreams and fulfill them the way she wants to. She has shown the world that no woman should ever be under-estimated. Neetu has proved what WonderfulWomen believes Every Woman is Wonderful!