Indian women have long grappled with sexism in sports including wrestling
Screenshot from AFP/Noemi Cassanelli's video
WATCH: Young women wrestlers in India dream of glory despite odds
(Agence France-Presse) - March 8, 2019 - 8:26am

VARANASI, INDIA— Indian women have long grappled with sexism in sports including wrestling - but things are changing, with a new breed of female fighters seeking international success emerging from India.

2016 was a watershed year for women wrestling in India - with Sakshi Malik clinching a bronze to become the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in the sport.

In the same year, a biopic about two wrestling sisters - Commonwealth Games medallists Geeta and Babita Phogat - became one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time.

The sport has come a long way from the days when women were informally barred from training clubs, with wrestling viewed in India as a male bastion.

Today, more and more young women are hitting the mat, particularly in conservative northern Indian states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where child marriage and female foeticide remain common.

There's been "incredible" growth in women's wrestling in India in recent years, said Mansi Yadav, an 18-year-old training at a club in the northern city of Varanasi, hoping for international success like her heros Sakshi Malik and the Phogat sisters.

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