One of India’s most favourite wrestlers, Dara Singh Randhawa, was born on November 19 in the year 1928. Besides never losing a fight and making India proud in international wrestling arena, Dara Singh was also popular as a Bollywood actor and a Punjabi film producer.
He started acting in 1952 and was the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) of India. He worked as Hindi and Punjabi film producer, director and writer, and he acted in films and television.
Today, on what would have been his 88th birthday, we bring to you 13 lesser-known facts about Dara Singh:
1. Born in Dharmuchak village in Amritsar, Punjab, Dara Singh had bigger body measurements than most Indian wrestlers at that time. He was 6ft 2 inches tall with a 53-inch chest.
2. Due to his physical stature, Dara Singh was encouraged to take up wrestling at a very young age. He started his wrestling career by competing in amateur fights at fairs and markets.
3. His style of wrestling is called Pehlwani, an Indian wrestling technique that has been in practice for over 1,000 years.
4. Singh had toured many Asian countries to compete in fights. In 1947, he went to Singapore, where he was crowned the Champion of Malaysia when he defeated Tarlok Singh.
5. He became the National Wrestling Champion in 1954, at the age of 26. He earned laurels and honour from all corners of the country with his wrestling skills.
6. Dara Singh became the Commonwealth Champion in 1959 by defeating favourites such as King Kong, George Gordienko and John Desilva.
7. Singh became the World Champion by defeating America’s Lou Thesz in 1968.
8. He was inducted to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame as a professional wrestler in 1996.
9. He has received many awards and titles including Rustam-E-Hind and Rustam-E-Punjab.
10. He announced his retirement as a wrestler at a tournament held in Delhi in 1983. The event was inaugurated by Rajiv Gandhi and the winner’s title was presented by the then President Giani Zail Singh.
11. Dara Singh has acted and appeared in numerous Hindi and Punjabi films. Some of his most popular movies are Sikander-e-Aazam, Watan Se Door, Daada, Rustom-E-Baghdad, Sher Dil, and Raaka, and in more recent times, Kal Ho Na Ho and Jab We Met.
12. He was also popularly known as the actor who played the role of Hanuman in the TV adaptation of Ramayana.
13. Dara Singh was also the first sportsperson to be nominated in the Rajya Sabha. He served the role from 2003 to 2009.