Monday, June 14, 2021

53 years ago, Dara Singh became world wrestling champion today

“May 29, 1968, I became the world champion.”
—– Taken from Dara Singh’s book, ‘Meri Aatma Katha’

Dara Singh Randhawa, often seen in movies, was a wrestler before anything else. Hailing from a small village in Dharmuchak in Amritsar, Punjab, Singh belonged to a family of Jats.

According to records, Singh was born on November 17, 1928, however, it was November 19, 1928, as per her mother.

In 1947, Singh visited Singapore, where he started training under Harnaam Singh. Singh was 6 feet and 2 inches tall and weighed around 127kgs then. Due to his physique, he took up the Indian style of wrestling, pehlwani.

After some years, he switched to professional wrestling.

World Wrestling Championship – 1968

The title of world championship did not come easy to Dara Singh. Before his win in 1968, he had made numerous attempts at the championship, however, always remained the runner-up.

In 1968, Dara Singh defeated world champion Lou Thesz to finally lift the championship. His competitor, Thesz described Dara Singh as ‘an authentic wrestler who was superbly conditioned, against whom he did not have any issue losing.

Man with many careers

Dara Singh played a variety of roles throughout his life. He explored his role a social worker, a politician, a wrestler, and an actor too. Whichever field he chose, he was successful at it.

Life as a wrestler

Dara Singh was a natural wrestler. During his wrestling career (1946 to 1983), he won several titles.

In 1953, Singh won the professional Indian Wrestling Championship. He won Rustom-e- Hind in 1954, Rustom-e-Punjab in 1966, and Rustom-e-Jamaa world championship in 1968. In 1959, he won the Commonwealth Championship.

He played his last match in June 1983 at Indraprastha Stadium in Delhi. He was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018.

Image of Lord Hanuman for thousands of Indians

One often resonated with Dara Singh when speaking of Lord Hanuman. The actor is known for his role as Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan. The role made him a household name and his popularity increased manifold.

The actor in his autobiography says that people started to believe that he was Lord Hanuman in real. He also shared that Ramanand Sagar wanted him to play the role.

Apart from this, Singh worked in 130 films including 118 films as an actor, 3 as a producer, and 9 as a director. He won the best actor award for Jagga from the Government of India. He was part of the Indian cinema from 1950 to 2012 and was also called the He-Man of Indian cinema.

Life as a social worker

In 1960, Dara Singh helped build the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati from the collection he made throughout his wrestling events. He also constructed Shaheed Bhagat Singh Stadium at Dharmu Chakh district, Amritsar.

He often donated towards the contribution made by our soldiers. In 1965, during the second war with Pakistan, made donations to Defence Minister of India Sardaar Swarn Singh for the Indian soldiers fighting the war.

Life as a politician

Dara Singh was the first sportsperson to be nominated as a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). He actively participated from August 2003 to 2009. He was also a member of the committee on human resource development from 2004 to 2006, member of the consultative committee for the Ministry of Youth Affairs and sports in 2004.

Dara Singh died at the age of 83 on July 12, 2012, in Mumbai, after having a heart attack.

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