Who is Shivani Pawar: 5 things to know about India's latest wrestling talent on the block

The Indian grappler won a silver medal at the U23 World Wrestling Championships earlier this week

By Olympic Channel Writer
Picture by United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan

Shivani Pawar is the new exciting talent on India's conveyor belt of elite wrestlers. Pawar became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the U23 World Wrestling Championships 2021 in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday.

Pawar, who made her entry through the 50kg qualifiers, was pinned by the reigning junior world champion Emily King Shilson of the United States in the final.

But the Indian wrestler joined the likes of Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya, who have also won silver at the U23 world event. Let us know more about Pawar, who may be a contender to qualify for Paris 2024.

Started with football

Pawar was drawn to football and athletics in her school days. She studied at Pandit Vishambhar Nath High School, Umreth in Madhya Pradesh. Impressed by her athleticism, her coach Kalashram Marskole encouraged her to pursue football.

Pawar, incidentally, loved playing the beautiful game and made it to the state level championship in her first-ever appearance with the school football team.

Switch to wrestling

Former wrestling champion Fatima Bano spotted her in a tournament held at Chhindwara and felt that she had the ability to become a top wrestler.

Bano was the one who enrolled her in a state programme. Pawar, then, moved to join the MP Khel Academy in Bhopal to learn the basics of wrestling.

Early struggles

The move turned out to be a major challenge for Pawar, who comes from a family of farmers, but it was her determination that kept her going.

“At first it was difficult to manage money for her training and diet but we never stopped her. We have a small farm of three acres," her mother told Hindustan Times. Pawar, then, started fighting in local dangals (tournaments) and used her prize money to fund her training.

Breaking the shackles

Her relatives and neighbours, however, weren't too amused at Pawar's athletic ambitions and tried to dissuade her. But Pawar had other ideas and decided to stop talking to people who came in the way of her dreams.

“There were neighbours and other people who would tell us we should not allow our girl to wrestle. Shivani loves the sport so much that she told me that ‘I will never talk to anyone who tells me to leave wrestling’,” her mother told Hindustan Times.

Sibling rivalry

Shivani Pawar, who hails from Umreth village in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, however isn't the only wrestler in the family. Her sisters, Bharti and Ritika, have also competed at the national level.

Shivani has participated in eight national tournaments, winning one gold, two silver and one bronze medal. She also represented India at the Asian Junior Championships, which were held in New Delhi in July.

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