Today is May 29, 2016. On this same day in 1968, Dara Singh was crowned World Champion. He defeated Lou Thesz of USA to win the title. The championship was held in Mumbai ( then Bombay) on May 29, 1968. Dara Singh eventually retired from the sport in 1983 after having been in over 500 fights.
Here are Top 10 facts that you should know about this great Indian wrestler.
1. Dara Singh was born on 19 November in 1928 in the village of Dharmuchak, Amritsar. As a child, Dara Singh had a huge physique and hence many villagers encouraged him to learn pehelwani (wrestling).
2. Dara Singh went Singapore in 1947 and worked in a drum manufacturing mill . He also started his wrestling training there under Harnam Singh in the Great World Stadium. While being in Singapore, he defeated Tarlok Singh and became the Champion of Malaysia (Indian style wrestling).
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3. Earlier in 1959, Dara became the Commonwealth Champion by defeating big names in the wrestling world like King Kong, George Gordienko, John Desilva and others.
4. He then became the Indian Champion in 1954. In 1996 he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Surprisingly, he never lost a match during his career.
5. He announced his retirement in Delhi in June 1983 after having been in over 500 fights.
6. In 1968, he defeated America’s Lou Thesz and became the Champion of the World.
7. He also worked in Bollywood film industry mainly as the action hero. Some of his notable movies include – Watan Se Door, Daada, Rustom-E-Baghdad, Sher Dil, Sikandar-E-Azam and Raaka.
8. Dara Singh was the man who gave Mumtaz her first big break as a female lead in Bollywood. They have done dozens of films together.
9. In the late 1980s, where he appeared on Television screen in the role of Hanuman in the television adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayan and was highly appraised for this role.
10. Singh became the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha. He served as the Member of Parliament in between 2003 and 2009. He was also president of the Jat Mahasabha. His contribution to wrestling has been seen as a benchmark for generations to follow.
Dara Singh died on 12 July 2012 at his home in Mumbai due to cardiac arrest. He was the owner of Dara Studio at Mohali, Punjab which was founded in 1978 and was operational since 1980.