Got Married At The Age of 13 to a Psychopath, Worked As A Labour To Support Her Family But Became A National Wrestler: Neetu Sarkar.


Child marriage is a social evil that we still are fighting with. Kids are forced into marriage despite being mature enough to carry the physical and mental responsibilities. One such victim was Neetu Sarkar. She was forced into marriage when she was just 13 and was a mother of two by the time she turned 15. However, that did not stop her from becoming a wrestler and living her dream at the international level.

She was born in Bhiwani, Haryana. Neetu for obvious reasons ran away from her 43-year-old mentally challenged husband, fearing for her future life and its aftermath.

Furious at her for running away, her family soon forced her into marriage with another man.

Within one and a half year, at the age of 15, 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 support the family, Neetu started working as a construction laborer and did a series of similar odd jobs.

However, meanwhile, she got fascinated with the game of wrestling.

But in her village, which had a very poor sex ratio, the gender roles were rigid and stereotypical. In an interview, she said:

I desperately wanted to wrestle. Then they got me married. Then I had children. Whenever I’d see another girl wrestle, I’d feel curious. I would ask, ‘What game is this? What are you playing?’

To her surprise, Neetu’s husband believed in her passion and respected it.

For him, it was not about fame or winning medals or earning money but about standing by her side and with his support, she started working towards becoming a wrestler.

Neetu was to get up as early as 3 o’ clock morning and, run 10 km so that she could lose the extra fat. Recalling those days, she said,

I had to wake up that early because if I came any later, after five or six, the village members and my family would be awake by the time I came back.

She soon brought her weight under control and started training at the National Stadium in Rohtak, which is one and a half hours from her village.

Her financial condition was so poor, that she even pretended to be a student to avoid having to pay the bus fare.

By 2013, Neetu had already made her mark in the junior 51-kg category. When the Senior National Championship happened in 2014, she won bronze in the 53-kg category.

The next year, she won bronze at the National Games and represented India at the World Championship.

She achieved all this in a span of three years along with all the social and economic constraints she had to face.

People IN VILLAGE used to frown AT ME before. But now they look up to me as a Role model and some of them even want me to help their daughters to follow in her path. Yes, this feels good!

-says Neetu.