History Maker: Kavita Devi
Indian-born Kavita Dalal is a professional wrestler in WWE’s developmental territory NXT under the ring name Kavita Devi. Devi recently competed on the independent circuit for Continental Wrestling Entertainment. Additionally, she is a weightlifter and has earned honors for her efforts. Devi is the company’s first female wrestler of Indian origin. She has competed internationally for India, winning gold in the 75 kg event in the 2016 South Asian Games.
A lot of Devi’s childhood was in Malvi, Haryana, where she didn’t like being told what to do. In Malvi, which has a small population of less than 6,000 people, female feticide is still a problem. Girls weren’t usually allowed to go to college after high school, and they weren’t usually allowed to go to college. All of these rules for women didn’t make sense to Devi, and she didn’t agree with them. She didn’t like cooking, cleaning, or housekeeping. She always found a way to learn and play sports in secret, whether it was badminton, track, or weightlifting. When people told her to “wear proper clothes,” or “tie your hair up like a proper girl,” she would go to the sports fields and run or lift weights to get the anger out.
Following high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree. She served in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB — Armed Border Forces assigned to guard the country’s borders with Bhutan and Nepal) and resigned as a sub-inspector. She received training in armed and guerilla warfare, intelligence operations, and harsh weather survival.
Throughout her service with the border troops, she maintained a weightlifting and Wushu martial arts training regimen. She lacked female role models, but one stood out: weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, the first Indian woman to win an Olympic gold medal with a bronze in the 2000 Sydney Games. Malleswari exuded strength and vitality, and Devi sought to emulate her. Devi discovered that weightlifting was cathartic. She recognized her ability and wanted to pursue it as a profession.
District events led to state tournaments, and before she realized it, she was competing in and earning medals at national-level tournaments. When she had difficulties obtaining official authorization to compete in international weightlifting events while still serving in the military (she was not permitted to compete in a competition in Russia), she resigned in 2010 to devote her whole attention to weightlifting. She relocated to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, to a new training center.
Despite her success in weightlifting, she struggled to find employment during the offseason. She queued and met with potential employers, but nothing materialized. That is when she first learned about Khali. He had established an academy in the Punjab town of Jalandhar. She spoke with him on the phone and then boarded a train to the institution to inspect it. She has always been interested by wrestling and saw this as the next “significant step” in her profession.
She began training with Khali shortly thereafter. He mentored her, beginning with the foundations of wrestling. He immediately saw her potential as a great WWE wrestler the first time he saw her. Afterwards, he gave her advice on how to improve and personally witnessed her improvements at the training center.
Following that, she competed in the Mae Young Classic. WWE announced in 2017 that she had acquired a contract with the company and will begin training at the WWE Performance Center in 2018. She debuted at WrestleMania and NXT live events in the following years. In January 2019, she began tryouts to choose athletes for a new WWE Super League in India in order to increase the number of women and Indians in professional wrestling. It was noted that Devi was back home with her husband due to him catching Covid. She was also recovering from a torn ACL and hopes to return back to the WWE ring.
Kavita Devi is well-known for wrestling in salwar kameez and bindis while representing her culture, and she serves as an example to females from both rural and urban places. She is a trailblazer in demonstrating that women are capable of greatness and that with determination, aspirations are attainable.