Pooja Dhanda is an Indian freestyle wrestler, who participates in 57 kg women wrestling events. In 2019, she received the prestigious Arjuna Award.
Pooja Dhanda was born on Saturday, 1 January 1994 (age 28 years; as of 2022) in Budana Village in Narnaund, Hisar district, Haryana, India. Her zodiac sign is Capricorn. She pursued her higher studies at Govt. College, Hisar, Haryana.
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Weight (approx.): 57 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown
Pooja Dhanda belongs to a Hindu family in Haryana.
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Ajmer Dhanda, works as a Truck driver for the Haryana Animal Husbandry centre in Hisar.
Her mother, Kamlesh Dhanda, is a homemaker.
Pooja Dhanda’s elder brother, Sumit Dhanda, works as a Sub Fire Officer at Haryana Fire Service Hisar.
Pooja Dhanda began her career as a judo wrestler and marked her debut in the Asian Cadet Judo Championship in 2007 and won a bronze medal in her weight category. She then won a gold medal at the Asian Cadet Judo Championship in 2008. However, she met Kripa Shankar Patel Bishnoi at a national camp in Aurangabad who recommended her to select either judo or wrestling, rather than both, because her physique was suited more to wrestling than judo. In an interview, she talked about this and said,
Since childhood, I wanted to be a wrestler but because of my age, I joined judo in 2007 and won medals for the country. But later when I was 16-year-old, I was advised to opt one sport and I joined wrestling.”
In 2010, Pooja made her freestyle wrestling debut at Summer Youth Olympics held in Singapore under the 57kg weight category, where she won a silver medal. She suffered a significant injury during one of her practice sessions at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Lucknow in 2015 following which she could not compete in any wrestling competition for two years. She was able to recover in 2016 after enduring two surgeries. In an interview, she talked about this and said,
It was a phase I cannot forget easily. There were times when I could stand properly. Those two years derailed my wrestling career, but I was determined to return to the mat and soon made my comeback in the 2017 Pro Wrestling League.”
In 2016, she resumed her practice sessions, and in 2017, she participated in the 57-weight category at Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Championships. She won a bronze medal in the championship
Pooja went on to participate in various wrestling competitions like the Commonwealth Games and Pro Wrestling League.
In 2018, she participated in the Pro Wrestling competitions in which she defeated the World and the Olympics champion Helen Maroulis. Pooja recalled the match in an interview, saying,
After the final match, Helen told me ‘I am your fan now’. I was over the moon. I have always admired for her wrestling and beating her twice was a dream come true,”
- 2007: Bronze Medal in Asian Cadet Judo Championship
- 2008: Gold Medal in Asian Cadet Judo Championship
- 2010: Silver Medal at Summer Youth Olympics, Singapore
- 2013: Gold Medal at Senior Wrestling Nationals
- 2014: Bronze Medal in Asian Wrestling Championship
- 2017: Bronze Medal at Asian Indoor and Martial Art Championships
- 2018: Silver Medal at Commonwealth Games
- Arjuna Award in 2015
She owns a Kia Seltos GTX Plus.
- Pooja Dhanda joined the Hisar Mahavir Stadium at the age of 10 to pursue her judo and wrestling training. She was trained by the trainer and wrestler Subash Chander Soni.
- Pooja Dhanda follows a vegetarian diet.
- In 2016, she was offered to play the role of Babita Phogat in Aamir Khan‘s film Dangal. However, she could not get the role owing to her knee injury. During an interview, she talked about this, and said,
It was alright being an actor (as a Cast in Dangal). But I prefer writing my own story.”
- Pooja Dhanda is an avid dog lover and has a pet dog at her home.
- Pooja’s achievements have been lauded by several eminent personalities including Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath.
- Her favourite food includes Sarso Ka Saag, Matar Paneer, and Ice Cream.