Did You Know: Vinesh Phogat Was Once Romantically Linked With Neeraj Chopra But Soon The Wrestler Married Long-Time Boyfriend Vinesh Phogat and Neeraj Chopra. (Image: Instagram)

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat is in the news because of her fight against the current setup of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). The fight between the wrestlers and the federation has been going on for almost a year now. Vinesh returned her prestigious national awards – Major Dhyanchand Khel Ratna and Arjuna award – to the government and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Vinesh did that to bring attention of the PM to the struggle of the wrestlers. Earlier Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia had announced retirement and returned Padma Shri award respectively after Sanjay Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was elected as the chairman of WFI.

Also Read | Newly-Formed WFI Suspended By Sports Ministry Days After Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s Close Aide Sanjay Singh Elected As President

Vinesh and Co got very little support from the star Indian athletes. Cricketers like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma are yet to speak on the matter. The likes of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal among others have been mute on the ongoing tussle between wrestlers and WFI. The only elite athlete who has spoken on the wrestlers’ protest is Neeraj Chopra.

When the Delhi Police had detained the wrestlers from the protest site, Neeraj had tweeted: “I feel sad after watching this. There has to be a better way to deal with this.” Neeraj comes from same state as the protesting wrestlers which is Haryana. He is a close friend of Vinesh. They both were inducted into JSW Sports (sports wing of the JSW group that supports talented Indian athletes) at the same time. But not many people know that at one time, the the two were romantically linked to each other.

__ _____ ____ ____ ___ __ ___ __ | There has to be a better way to deal with this. https://t.co/M2gzso4qjX
— Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) May 28, 2023

During Asian Games 2018, Neeraj and Vinesh used to attend each other’s matches. Mid-Day had reported in 2018 how Neeraj made time to watch the 50kg final between his friend Vinesh and Japanese wrestler Yuki Irie. The report says that Neeraj had very little time to make it the the wrestling arena as he had a training session at other place in the evening. “I had a training session just now, so I’m a little late, but I’m glad that I did not miss this final,” Neeraj had told the newspaper.

Neeraj had blushed, reported the paper, when asked if he knew Vinesh from before the Asiad. To reply to this question, he said we are good friends and just that. Earlier the same year, Vinesh had reportedly attended the men’s javelin final in Gold Coast wherein Neeraj clinched the gold medal.

Vinesh was pleasantly surprised when she was told by the media that Neeraj was watching her final in Asian Games 2018. On being asked if Neeraj was his ‘lucky charm, Vinesh had said, “Lucky charm jaisa kuch nahi hai. Hum sirf achche dost hai (there’s nothing like a lucky charm or anything, we’re just good friends),” she had said.

But the rumoured relationship story did not last long. As soon as Vinesh landed in Delhi, she got engaged to boyfriend Somvir Rathi. The engagement happened at the airport parking area, said a report. “For the last 4-5 years, it has so been happening that I was losing bouts just before my birthday. This time, after securing the Asiad gold medal, we wanted to celebrate the win in a grand way. Thus, this engagement at the airport,” Vinesh was quoted as saying in Times of India.

Read More