Malik was born on 3 September 1992 in Mokhra village of Haryana‘s Rohtak district to Sukhbir, a bus conductor with Delhi Transport Corporation, and Sudesh Malik, a supervisor at a local health clinic. According to her father, she was motivated to take up wrestling from seeing her grandfather Badlu Ram, who was also a wrestler. She began training in wrestling at the age of 12 under a coach, Ishwar Dahiya, at an Akhara in Chhotu Ram Stadium, Rohtak. However, there were four people out there namely, Kuldeep Malik, Ishwar Dahiya, Mandeep Singh and Rajbir Singh who claimed themselves as the coach of Sakshi Malik. Later on, Sakshi herself submitted an affidavit with the sports department, informing that Ishwar Dahiya and Mandeep Singh are her coaches.
Malik’s first success as a professional wrestler in the international arena came in 2010 at the Junior World Championships where she won the bronze medal in the 58 kg freestyle event. At the 2014 Dave Schultz International Tournament, she won gold in the 60 kg category. And after that, she never stopped and maintained the passion and dedication towards the game.
Malik began her campaign at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games winning her quarterfinal bout against Edwige Ngono Eyia of Cameroon by a 4–0 margin. In the semifinal, she faced Braxton Stone of Canada whom she defeated 3–1 to assure herself of a medal. Her opponent in the final was Aminat Adeniyi of Nigeria who defeated her 4–0 in a closely contested bout. At the 2014 World Championships in Tashkent, she faced Anta Sambou of Senegal in the Round of 16, and won the bout 4–1. She crashed out of the tournament after a 1–3 loss to Petra Olli of Finland.
At the 2015 Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar, in a total of five rounds in the 60 kg category, Malik battled through two rounds to finish in the third position and claim a bronze medal. In the first round, she faced Luo Xiaojuan of China but was beaten 4–5 by fall verdict. She came back strongly in the second round to beat Munkhtuya Tungalag of Mongolia 13–0, before losing in the third round to Yoshimi Kayama of Japan. She was able to clinch the bronze medal in the fourth round, beating Ayaulym Kassymova of Kazakhstan.
Malik qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics by defeating China’s Zhang Lan in the semifinal of the 58 kg category at the Olympic World Qualifying Tournament in May 2016. At the Olympics, she won her Round of 32 bout against Sweden’s Johanna Mattsson and Round of 16 bout against Moldova’s Mariana Cherdivara. After losing to eventual finalist Valeria Koblova of Russia in the quarterfinal, she qualified for the repechage round where she defeated Pürevdorjiin Orkhon of Mongolia in her first bout. She won the bronze medal after an 8–5 victory over the reigning Asian champion Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan, despite trailing 0–5 at one stage, in the repechage medal playoff, and became India’s first female wrestler to win an Olympic medal.
Sakshi Malik represented ‘Colors Delhi Sultans’ in the second edition of the Pro Wrestling League held in January 2017. She has also been featured in the women’s day campaign called as #EveryWomanStrong for her sponsor JSW Group.
Malik is currently employed with Indian Railways in the commercial department of its Delhi division, in the Northern Railway zone and is a part of the JSW Sports Excellence Program. Following her bronze medal win at Rio, she was promoted from senior clerk to gazetted officer rank.
Malik has completed a master’s degree in physical education from Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak. In September 2016, she was appointed as the university’s wrestling director.
In an interview shortly after the Rio Olympics, Malik said she was engaged to be married to a fellow wrestler Satyawart Kadian later in 2016. Satyawart Kadian is also an international level wrestler and has won medals in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
Sakshi Malik married Indian freestyle wrestler Satyawart Kadian on April 2, 2017.
Awards and recognition
- Padma Shri (2017) – fourth highest Indian national honour
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2016) – highest sporting honour of India
- Multiple cash prizes totaling over ₹5.7 crore (US$800,000) from the Indian Railways, the Indian Olympic Association, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the Government of Delhi, various state governments, including Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, from private bodies such as the JSW Group and from political groups including the Indian National Lok Dal.
- Promotion to gazetted officer rank by her employer, the Indian Railways.
- Class 2 job offer from the Government of Haryana.
- 500 yd2 land grant from the Government of Haryana