Hand-painted posters of films starring Dara Singh

In the final bout, death got more points but Dara Singh won.

The loveable wrestler turned actor died today aged 83. A few days ago I was reading Vir Sanghvi’s wonderful tribute to the man in The Greatest Show on Earth: Writings on Bollywood, unfortunately can’t seem to locate the piece that originally appeared in Hindustan Times online. But did manage to dig up some newspaper items from sixty years ago when Dara Singh’s reputation has started to take the shape of a legend.

Newspaper clipping of Dara Singh's wrestling bout

Dara Singh Wins in City Wrestling

MADRAS, Nov. 12.

Dara Singh made a fine start in the International Wrestling Tournament for the Championship of Bharath, when he knocked-out Ron Harrisson of Ireland in the third round on the Salt Cottaurs ground yesterday evening.

In an earlier bout. Tiger Joginder drew his return fight with King Kong, the Hungarian ‘Man-Mountain’, each securing a pin fall. King Kong won on the first occasion.

All attention was centred around Dara Singh, who made his debut in this tournament yesterday. True, he gave a good account of himself, but one felt that the opposition pitted against him was not good enough, Harrisson, a much lighter man, started impressively, but as the fight went on there was little doubt of the Indian’s superiority. Dara Singh won the tight In the third round when he knocked-out the Irishman with an ‘Aeroplane Spin’.

A big crowd turned up to witness , the King Kong-Joginder bout, but they were disappointed. For one thing the arts and graces of wrestling were sadly absent, and for another both men Indulged in a lot of gallery play.

King Kong secured his fall in the third round using a body slam and body press. Joginder equalised in the sixth round with a shoulder charge and body press.

In another bout, Tarlok Singh knocked-out Sarban Das after a series of body slams. There was little interest in the bout and the knock-out, which came in the second round, was a big relief to all. In the first fight of the evening under Indian style, Bhima Rao of Kholapur, beat another international wrestler in Puran Singh, winning in two minutes 40 seconds. Last week Bhima Rao defeated Sarban Das.

(The Indian Express – November 13, 1953)

Newspaper clipping of Dara Singh's wrestling bout

King Kong beats Dara Singh again

MADDRAS. Nov 23. King Kong the Hungarian Hercules, beat Dara Singh for the second time In the present series last evening In the International wrestling Bouts at the Salt Cottaurs grounds. King Kong’s victory was by two falls to one

The Hungarian was the first to score. In the third round, he won a pin fall with a body slam and a body press. Dare Singh however equalised In the sixth round with a reverse body press. The fight still being undecided the Indian requested an extra round in which the contest could be decided. King Kong accepted and in a thrilling round in which both fighters went tooth-and-nail at each other, the man-mountain converted Dara’s flying tackles into a body slam in his favour and won the round and fight with a body press.

In another thrill-packed bout, Flash Gordon knocked out Bill Verna, the Blonde Tiger, in the third round. The mystery man won again with his now-famous judo hold. and Verna, in spite of his strength and technique, fell a victim to that crippler.

Alf Greer was disqualified for continued fouling in the fifth round of his fight with Stanley Andrews, when the srcore was one fall each.

Earlier, in two bouts in the Indian style, Kanakasundaram beat Madras collegian Ramendrakumar Singh and Vasant Singh and Tarlok Singh fought a 10-minute bout to a draw.

(The Indian Express – November 24, 1953)

Newspaper clipping of Dara Singh's wrestling bout

Dara Singh beats Blonde Tiger


SECUNDERABAD. Nov. 28. Dara Singh, famous Indian wrestler today won the main bout defeating Blonde Tiger, champion of Europe in International American Free Style Wrestling Championship being held at Mehdi Jung Stadium. Having drawn the first four rounds, Dara Singh lifted Blonde Tiger bodily over his head and after continuous circling threw him down with “Aeroplane Spin.” Tiger was counted out and declared defeated. The fight was tense but clean, both displaying rare mastery in the game. Earlier Angelo Pepin of Italy beat Puran Singh by two rounds to one. Marciano Couthino of Spain defeated Sarban Das, Champion of Borneo by two rounds to nil, after the first round was drawn. Excise and Revenue Minister Mr. K. V. Reddy was the Patron of the evening and was introduced to Dara Singh and Blonde Tiger before the main bout started.

(The Sunday Standard – November 28, 1953)

Newspaper clipping of Dara Singh's wrestling bout


Tiger Joginder Disqualified in Seventh Round

(From Our Bombay Office)

BOMBAY, June 12. IDOL of the mat game Dara Singh was crowned champion of Bharat and Tiger Joginder disqualified for repeated fouling in the seventh round on the concluding day of Free-Style Wrestling Tournament at the Vallabbhai Patel stadium or Saturday.

The 10,000 odd spectators who gambled with the monsoon and came to stadium had plenty to satisfy their appetite for a fight to a finish final had all the thrills expected with an abrupt ending in the seventh round, when Joginder earned the displeasure of referee Rashid Anwar.

The two of India’s grapplers in action the standard of the various holds display was seen to good light and there were many who felt that Tiger Joginder was the better of the two mat men on view.

After the wrestlers had won a round each. Dara Singh attempted the flying tackle in the seventh tound and fell through the ropes out of the ring. He was quick on his feet and made a bee line for the ring as he was attempting to get over the ropes Tiger Joginder rushed up and used an arm jolt to send Dara hurling on the ground again. Rashid Anwar warned Tiger Joginder but instead of taking heed he persisted in doing the same thing twice not giving Dara any chance of entering the ring. The referee thus did the only logical thing possible and that was to disqualify Tiger Joginder and award the match to Dara Singh. The verdict of the referee was received with thunderous applause by the spectators who were happy to see Dara Singh claim the handsome Maharaja of Kashmir trophy awarded for the champion of Bharat for the 1953 bouts.

After using his head to good purpose Tiger Joginder lifted Dara and slammed him on the mat thrice before he used the deadly Cobra hold to win the second round. Dara was at the receiving end in the rounds of three and four but staged a rally in the fifth to win by a submission fall, the result of a Boston Crab. Round six was even and both wrestlers escaped narrowly from difficult holds whern about to be pinned. In round seven Tiger started promisingly but marred his performance by fouling and thus earning a disqualification.

(The Sunday Standard – June 13, 1954)

Dara Singh’s wrestling may have been more of entertainment than competition (quite like the WWE) but Dara Singh is a legend of a kind that the WWE wrestlers can only dream of.