Rustam-e-Hind looked out for India’s wrestlers

first_imgThursday was observed as a day of mourning at Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium to pay tribute to the man who brought the sport of wrestling to the centrestage.A father-figure to wrestlers, Singh regularly visited dangals and was an inspiration for the youngsters.”I can vividly recall my first meeting with him right after the 1972 Olympics. I was so impressed. The way he had maintained his body was inspiring for youngsters like us,” Satpal Singh, who won the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games, reminisced.Dara Singh was ecstatic when Sushil Kumar won bronze at the Beijing Olympics and gold at the World Championship. “He told Sushil that he should perform the same way in London and return with a medal,” Satpal said.Dara learnt the sport in the mud dangals of his village. He then turned to professional wrestling, emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the 50s and 60s.The legend of Singh grew as he fought over 500 professional bouts, all undefeated, and competed against established international wrestlers such as King Kong (Australia) and John Desilva (New Zealand). In 1954, he won the title of Rustam-E-Hind.Mumbai-based wrestling coach Jagmal Singh, remembers how Dara always made time for bouts. “Whether it was Maharashtra Kesri or other important bouts, he would readily agree to be the chief guest.”He even agreed to be the referee in the Bharat Kesri championship when Changdi Ram won the title in 1968 and later when Satpal took home the crown in 1976. “We hope the boys return with a medal from the Olympics. It will be a fitting tribute to him,” Satpal said.advertisementlast_img

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