World Wrestling Entertainment, commonly known as WWE is an American publicly traded, privately controlled entertainment company that deals primarily in professional wrestling. Founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952 as Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd, today it is the largest wrestling promotion in the world, holding over 500 events a year, and broadcasting to about 36 million viewers in more than 150 countries.

Thus, it is a matter of great pride that for the first time an Indian woman, Kavita Devi, 31, has been given a developmental contract with the WWE franchise. She won her place at a tryout in Dubai earlier this year, in which 40 men and women from India and the Middle East, identified as potential stars, were put through their paces by WWE scouts.

Kavita, from Haryana, has represented India at the 2016 South Asian Games and is also a powerlifter. This isn’t her first time leading the way — the former kabaddi player was the first Indian woman to enter a WWE ring during the Mae Young Classic. In a statement made to the public soon after the announcement, she was quoted as saying “It was a privilege to be the first Indian woman to compete in WWE. Now I am looking forward to pursuing my dream of becoming the first WWE Women’s Champion from India.”

On hearing about this development, Mr Amitabh Kumar, Head of Media and Communications, Centre for Social Research, had this to say : “I was crazy about WWF back in the day and used to watch all the matches, play trump cards, imitate all the wrestlers. Back then, women were a mere sexy accessory for the macho men, as it helped in our toxic masculinity socialization. It is wonderful to see to see the trend changing, I hope they are seen as the athletes they are, and not objectified. We have a long way to go but it’s a good start!

At Centre for Social Research, we strongly believe that sports are a wonderful means for empowerment, and can do wonders for the gender movement. Our ongoing project on empowering girls in Haryana through sports, is aimed at achieving just this. Therefore, we are thrilled at Kavita Devi being selected at the global platform, and hope to see more of her ilk reach greater heights in the field of sports.