Kerala policewoman Mini Raju, ASI, poses with her gold medals won during the World Arm-Wrestling Championship in Turkey, on her arrival in Kozhikode, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022 | Photo: PTI
Kozhikode: When ASI Mini Raju won a 2018 district-level arm wrestling competition organised here by Kerala Police Association after entering it at the last moment, little did she know that four years down the line she would make India proud by winning a double gold in the World Arm Wrestling Competition held at Turkey recently.
Another feather in her cap is that she was also the captain of the 43-member Indian team that participated in the world sporting event and bagged 13 medals -- three gold, five silver and five bronze -- a haul which was a first for the country at the competition, according to Raju.
Of the 13 medals, eight were won by arm wrestlers from Kerala, she added.
"Every year, India used to send a 40-45 member contingent to the competition and used to come back with one or two medals. This is the first time we won so many medals. Also after 1979, I am the first one to win double gold for the country at the event," Raju told PTI.
Raju, prior to entering the world of arm wrestling, was a state-level athlete who participated in the 100 and 200 metre heats and long-jump events and won medals.
She joined the police force in 2001 and continued to participate in athletic events, Raju said. However, an accident in 2008 which damaged the ligament in her leg ended her athletic career.
In 2018, when she went to see an arm wrestling competition organised by the Kerala Police Association's Kozhikode district unit, she decided to participate in the event and "probably due to my background in sports I had the strength required to win there".
"Thereafter, I participated in an open district-level arm wrestling competition where I defeated several seasoned opponents and emerged as champion and strong woman in the district," she said.
From then, there was no looking back and she went on to win gold, in the right and left arm categories, at the state-level competitions and then bronze at the national level, she said.
In just a short span of four years after entering the sport, she went on to lead the Indian team at the World Arm Wrestling Competition, held at Turkey from October 14-23, where the country won 13 medals.
"All this was possible due to the support of my family, especially my husband. He is the driving force behind me. He takes me to the Evolution Gym at 5 AM and then again in the evening after our duty ends for the day. He also practices with me," Raju said.
Her husband, also an ASI, however, does not participate in the sporting event.
Raju's coach is Roshith, who runs the gym where she practices and is also a national-level referee of the sport, she said.