Vantage point

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Great Khali

There are some success stories which are not mainstream in the Indian sense, but still quite remarkable. Narain Karthikeyan is one such story. Just a tiny fraction of the country's population knows what Formula 1 racing is. And yet an Indian managed to break into the rarefied echelons of this sport. Granted, he didn't exactly strike fear in the heart of Fernando Alonso, but just making it to an F1 team is remarkable.

There is another Indian success story of sorts brewing in the United States. It is not in the field of sports per se, but sports entertainment, i.e WWE (professional wrestling). No Indian newspaper or TV channel has picked up on it yet, but I am sure they will. The Indian media is usually desperate to connect to people with even the remotest Indian connections. This person is a bonafide India, a true rags-to-riches story if there ever was one.

Dalip Singh has made his WWE debut. He used to be a daily wage labourer in Punjab. That's right, he used to work on highways, breaking stones. He was later recruited into the Punjab Police Department, worked on his physique, won the Mr. India bodybuilding contest, and joined the Pro Wrestling circuit in Japan. He has rapidly moved up the Pro Wrestling Chain and has ended up at the WWE, the top most body of pro-wrestling.

Not only has he entered the WWE, but he's done so with a bang, debuting in a feud with the legendary wrestler 'The Undertaker'. Most wrestlers move up the hard way, by feuding with smaller stars, and as their popularity grows, they move higher and higher in the value chain, so to say. But once in a while, if a special "talent"(I use this term in the WWE sense, not as pure wrestling talent) comes along, with a potential to make a splash, he is pitchforked into the big league.

Whether Dalip Singh, who has been named 'The Great Khali', can actually stay in the big league and become a big star remains to be seen. I have been following WWE off-and-on since I was a kid, and the fact remains that the biggest names in the business are not necessarily those who are big, strong, and great wrestlers. The biggest names are those blessed with the gift of gab. In that regard, Dalip Singh may fall short.

Be that as it may, a poor daily wage labourer reaching the WWE is a remarkable achievement. Here's wishing Dalip all the luck.

Update: Dhoomketu has a post on Dalip Singh too.