As more and more women start exploring different fields, society realizes that there is nothing that women cannot do. Be it combat positions, science, technology, innovation, sports or anything under the sun, if women take an interest, they can achieve it all. Once they are passionate about something, they end up not just breaking stereotypes but also opening up a whole new world for others who follow their footsteps. Seattle-based Sally Roberts is one of those women who went on to become an elite wrestler, a combat veteran, sport psychology consultant and then decided to start Wrestle Like a Girl. The initiative is meant to bring in more girls who learn how to fight it out.

In conversation with SheThePeople.TV, Roberts reveals that she started wrestling when she was studying in Std VIII. “I was looking for something to do, and wrestling was a no-cut sport. That meant anyone who wanted to try out could be on the team. I was getting in trouble at home and on the streets and wrestling kept me occupied.”

Living in the United States, her family had no objection with her choosing a career in wrestling. And eventually relatives and friends would say “‘Of course that is something she would do’. No one really thought too much about it, honestly. I just became known as the girl who wrestles,” she said.

Sally Roberts
Wrestle Like A Girl

Roberts was a resident at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center for eight years. During that time, she was a three-time national champion, 2003 World Cup Champion, 2003 & 2005 World Bronze Medallist and a 2008 Olympic Alternate. Then she served six years in the Army as a Special Operations soldier where she volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan. She was also a member of the Army’s prestigious World Class Athlete Program and represented both the US Army and Team USA in elite athletic competitions.

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Though her job was full of intensity and challenges, but Roberts took it all head on. “It was not as demanding as I thought it would be. Coming from elite athletics, I was prepared for a much more challenging environment,” she asserted.

On why she loves a good fight, Roberts said, “I love the fight. I really enjoyed testing myself and my abilities. There was no one that I could blame for my successes and failures, but myself.”

After her stint with the US Army, Roberts took retirement and moved on to start Wrestle Like a Girl. “I knew that I wanted to be involved in wrestling after retiring from elite athletics and there was not a perfect fit for me. I started Wrestle Like a Girl because I believed that there needed to be an international organization that worked to promote equality, fairness and opportunities for females in the sport of wrestling,” she said.

“The more girls and women who have access to the sport of wrestling, the more the world at-large wins!” – Sally Roberts

Wrestle Like a Girl is a national NGO based in the US that works to advocate for girls and women in the sport of wrestling and pairing leadership skills along with technical wrestling. “We have grown to become an international organization that is supporting female wrestling in multiple facets around the globe.”

Sally Roberts
Wrestle Like A Girl

While she says that the challenges women face in the sport are varying when it comes to different parts of the world, there are majorly political, social, cultural and societal barriers. “In some cases, there are financial barriers to entry while other female athletes lack a good coaching structure and training facility that accepts them.”

On whether gender determines strength, Roberts said, “There are certainly physiological differences between genders, but I can also say there are many different forms of strength. Mental strength, emotional strength and intellectual strengths and those factors are irrelevant to gender.”

The NGO assists girls in opening access to training facilities that were previously unopened to them, working with different states to allow girls to wrestle at-large. It works with national athletic associations so females can wrestle in the collegiate space and have educational mobility. It also helps nations grow their female wrestling populations so they can participate in the Olympics or have a stronger female wrestling continent that can qualify to make an Olympic team.

“The more girls and women who have access to the sport of wrestling the more the world at-large wins!” said Roberts. We couldn’t agree more. 

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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