Most distressed to hear the news : Dara Singh taken off ventilator support at Kokilaben Hospital & discharged so he may spend his last few hours or days in the warmth of his family’s love.
It seems like only yesterday when Dara Singh visited us at Bungalow 43 in Digboi . I was about 9 or 10 & Dara Singh’s autograph was one of my most cherished possessions until I lost my autograph book along with many of my worldly possessions some years ago ( that, as they say, is another story for another day ).
His words in my autograph book are however still as fresh as they were the day he wrote them : ” Kakey : Health is wealth , Keep Good Health : yours in sports : Dara Singh ”
After Tea & Biscuits at the Kanuga residence , Dara Singh , with Kanuga clan in tow , called at the Mahants’ bungalow in Muliabari , Digboi where Mrs Mahant , the grand old lady of Punjabi community in Digboi universally called ” Bhabhi ji ” had cooked some floating-in-ghee Punjabi delicacies : Rustom-E-Hind was most gracious in accepting the warm hospitality & mingling with the hundred odd men women & children who had assembled at the Mahants’ to greet their hero.
A stop over at the India Club to interface with a larger crowd , & Dara Singh was away to Dibrugarh where he would take on an open challenge from the Hungarian wrestler King Kong the following day. Dara Singh / King Kong bouts were perhaps the most popular spectator sport all over India : India”s Test Cricket win over Australia in Nagpur earlier that year with legendary cricketers such as Bapu Nadkarni / Polly Umrigar coming good came a distant second.
As a member of Digboi’s first Desi family ( First Family of course was the Mclachlans from Scotland ) , I had a ring side view of the Dara Singh -King Kong bout in Dibrugarh the following evening. My moment of glory was when Dara Singh smiled & waved out to me ( so I was told & was glad to accept as reality, whereas he might have waved out to any of the several dignitaries in the VIP rows ) before getting into what seemed like a bout- to- the- finish with his arch rival King Kong.
At one stage , King Kong appeared to have an unbeatable upper hand & Dara Singh was often on the mat , though up & ready well before the count-of-ten was over. And, just as it seemed as though Dara Singh had run out of stamina , he rose from the mat for the umpteenth time , & quickly changed gears to give King Kong the charge-of-a-lifetime , culminating in his legendary ” Helicopter ” tackle , wherein he lifted the heavy frame of King Kong in a V-shaped stance , & after moving a full circle to let the frenzied crowd all around the Ring savour the moment , he dumped King Kong onto the mat from where the ferocious Hungarian could not recover within the stipulate count-of-ten.
Who knows : parhaps Dara Singh will rise from the mat yet again : ventilator support or not : & give all his admirers a cause to rejoice in his famous ” Helicopter” stance to register yet another win : this time against Death !!
Cheers & God Bless