Daring to know DeeDara
1. Dara Singh was born on November 17, 1928, in Dharamchuk, a village near Amritsar and began wrestling at the age of five. He never completed school, was self-taught and proficient in English and Hindi, apart from his native language, Punjabi.
2. As a child, Singh was an admirer of Lord Hanuman because of the strength and speed associated with Him. Incidentally, the actor-wrestler himself became synonymous with Lord Hanuman in the 1990s when Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana aired on television, capturing the fancy of generations of viewers. However, he had essayed the role of the monkey-God even earlier in the hit film, Bajrangbali (1976).
3. Standing tall at 6 feet, two inches, Singh was known to be humble, soft-spoken and simple all through his life.
4. To earn a living, Singh travelled to Singapore early on in his life and worked in a drum-making factory, where he would complete the work of three men, all by himself. His dexterity caught the eye of his employer and he sponsored his training to become a wrestler.
5. Singh fought matches all over the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Russia, Turkey, England and Sri Lanka, where he defeated renowned wrestler King Kong for the first time.
6. Thanks to his triumphs over his celebrated peers from across the globe, Singh won the title of Rustam-e-Hind in 1954 and Rustam-e-Punjab in 1966. In the past, Singh defeated Tiger Joginder Singh, Emil Koroshenko, Bert Assirati and Harbans Singh.
In 1959, he won the Commonwealth Championship, a tour on which his list of fans included prominent figures, like Indira Gandhi, Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi and then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru himself. Singh won the World Championship again in 1968 defeating Lou Thesz of the United States of America.
7. Singh began working in films as a stuntman as early as 1952, starring with Dilip Kumar and Madhubala in Sangdil (1952) and went on to essay roles in over 190 films in Hindi and Punjabi, juggling two professions simultaneously.
Some of the memorable films he starred in over the years include Mera Naam Joker (1970), Anand (1971), Kal Ho Na Ho (2003) and Jab We Met (2007). Singh also opened Dara Studios in Mohali in 1978.
8. Dara Singh was the first sportsperson to be nominated to Rajya Sabha in 2003. He served his term till 2009.
The author is an intern at The Hindu
Deedara aka Dara Singh, (Westland), price: Rs. 321