Star of the week - DARA SINGH

DOB: November 19, 1928
Star sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Amritsar, India
Occupation: Professional wrestler, actor, director and politician


• Dara Singh was the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) of India.

• He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.

• Dara worked as a Hindi and Punjabi film producer, director and writer, and he acted in films and television. He is also known for his role of Hanuman in film Bajrangi (1976) and in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan.

Interesting facts:

• Dara Singh was born in the village of Dharmuchak. He went to Singapore in 1947, where he worked in a drum manufacturing mill and started his wrestling training under Harnam Singh in the Great World Stadium.

• As an adult he was 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighed 127 kilograms and had a chest measurement of 53 inches. Due to his physique, he was encouraged to take up pehlwani, an Indian style of wrestling.

• After switching to professional wrestling, he competed around the world with opponents such as Bill Verna, Firpo Zbyszko, John Da Silva, Rikid zan, Danny Lynch and Ski Hi Lee etc.

• His act of flooring King Kong made him prominent in the world of wrestling and is still remembered.

• In 1954, Dara competed in the Rustam-e-Hind (Champion of India) tournament where he won the final by defeating Tiger Joginder Singh and received a silver cup from Maharaja Hari Singh.

• In 1959, he won the Commonwealth Championship by defeating George Gordienko at Calcutta. On May 29, 1968 in Bombay, his victory over Lou Thesz earned him the World championship.

• His last tournament, where he announced his retirement, was held in Delhi in June of 1983.

• Dara started his career as an actor in 1952 with movie Sangdil. He was a stunt film actor for many years and played his first lead role in Babubhai Mistry's film King Kong (1962).

• From around 1963, he partnered often with Mumtaz with whom he performed in 16 Hindi films. The couple became the highest-paid B-grade actors, with Dara receiving nearly four lakh rupees per film.

• He then went on to do television in the late 1980s, where he played the role of Hanuman in the television adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayan.

• His last Hindi movie was Jab We Met in 2007 and his last Punjabi movie released before his illness was Dil Apna Punjabi.

• Dara acted in National Award-winning film Main Maa Punjab Dee and directed seven Punjabi films. He also directed two films in Hindi; Bhakti Mein Shakti and Rustom (1982). These were produced and directed under the banner "Dara Film" which he set up in 1970.

• Dara Singh was the owner of Dara Studio in Punjab. Founded in 1978, the space was operational from 1980 as a film studio.

• The former wrestler joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in January 1998 becoming the first sportsperson to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha – the upper house of the Parliament of India. He served in that role between 2003 and 2009. He was also president of the Jat Mahasabha.

• Dara Singh was admitted to a hospital on July 7, 2012 following a massive heart attack. Two days later, it was confirmed that his brain was damaged due to the lack of blood flow. He was discharged on July 11, 2012 and died the next day at his home in Mumbai.