A rheumatoid arthritis patient since he was three-year-old, Sangram Singh defied all odds by battling financial and physical battles, and went on to become the world’s best wrestler in 2012.
After defeating Canadian wrestler Joe Legend in the Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in South Africa last month, Sangram became the first Indian to win the title. He had signed a death contract for the championship (He’s the only Indian sportsperson to do so), absolving the organisers of any fatality during the last-man-standing fight.
In an exclusive interview with Nation Next, Sangram Singh spoke about his struggle as an arthritis patient for decades and his ambition to make wrestling a sport as popular as cricket in India.
You had rheumatoid arthritis and you were on a wheelchair for eight years, yet you became a wrestler. How was this life-transforming journey of yours
The journey was really tough. I hail from a very small town Madina in Rohtak district of Haryana. I was always weaker in comparison to other kids. I was very young, when I sensed pain in my legs, only to find out that I had rheumatoid arthritis, which was almost incurable. As a kid, I had a tough life. I couldn’t even go to toilet independently. We couldn’t even afford a wheelchair, so I was made to move on a charpai (four legged bed). I once went to an akhada (wrestling ring) for wrestling, where everybody started laughing at me. My mentor asked me what I was doing there, to which I replied by saying that I want to become a wrestler. He said that if I can become a wrestler, anybody can become one. It broke my heart. I felt inferior in comparison with my elder brother who was also a wrestler but my mother supported me through thick and thin. Whatever I am is all because of her.
In such a small town like Madina, it must have been difficult to get a good treatment. Were any medical benefits provided to you?
No medical benefits were provided to us and we couldn’t afford expensive doctors. We were in dire need of money but no one helped us then. It was only after I became a known personality, people came forward to help us. Doctors usually don’t recommend massage for arthritis patients but still my mother left no stone unturned to make me stand on my feet. She would massage my body with kerosene oil, mustard oil, etc. My recovery was completely through natural process. I consumed a lot of tulsi (basil), aamla (gooseberry), and dry fruits. I believe that medicines only reduce your pain; they don’t heal you completely. Only natural treatment can heal you from within and can help you regain your inner strength. Fighting with an ailment requires immense motivation and a never give up? attitude. I either win or I learn in life. There is nothing like failure in life. I believe that people should never lose hope or give up in life because no matter how dark the night is, there is always going to be a tomorrow. Despite having had a paralytic attack where I couldn’t speak, close my mouth or even stop my saliva from dripping, I’ve a come a long way today. I feel it’s my duty to return the favour of almighty by helping those in severe need. When I look back, I feel, had anyone helped us then, things would not have been so difficult for my family. I’m not a great personality but I make sure I help children, who have a desire to study. I recently adopted a school when I learnt that children there weren’t enrolling because of financial crunch. We all live for ourselves but what are we going to achieve by being so rich? We won’t eat ?gold rotis! You come empty handed in this world and leave empty handed. All one can do is leave a respectable name behind, for people to remember, by doing something good for others.
Not everybody knows your real name is Sanjeet Kumar. Why did you change your name to Sangram Singh?
Colors TV approached me for a reality show, where I learnt about professional wrestling. I was a bit apprehensive because I was new to the television industry and I had some wrong negative notions about it. I’m lucky to have met a lot of nice people here. My colleagues in the show said that my original name doesn’t suit me, which took me aback. I asked them to give me a new name and now the world knows me by Sangram Singh. My career took off after that, so I assume the names lucky!
Why did you quit your Delhi Police job?
I tried my hand everywhere possible for a decent living. I had a brief stint with Delhi police. I got a lot of respect there but later I had to quit because I couldn’t get timely leaves for my wrestling tournaments. I wanted to invest more time in wrestling. I wanted to pursue it with full dedication.
In between Delhi police and wrestling, how did reality shows happen?
Things kept happening with the flow. I did few wrestling shows like De Dhana Dhan, etc, which got me money and fame. My first big show was ‘Survivor India,’ where I met Payal Rohatgi. I was also offered the seventh season of Bigg Boss. I had initially declined Bigg Boss but then I had to pay my house? installments, so I went ahead with show, thereby becoming one of the finalists. After Bigg Boss, I did some bigger shows. Discovery channel also covered my life journey. I’m soon launching my own show that would generate a livelihood for many needy families. The show would be a motivation for people who are fighting physical and mental battles and how to cure themselves through natural therapy. TV and films are extremely influential as they are the greatest sources to impart knowledge. I’m doing a biographical movie on a wrestlers life. I’m glad that Salman Khanji and Aamir Khanji have done wrestling oriented movies, which would make the sport more recognisable.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitated you for your Commonwealth Heavy Weight Professional Championship victory. How did that feel?
I was overwhelmed. Modiji said that I am a motivation for the countrys youth. Not only did I battle against the hardships of life but I also fought with rheumatoid arthritis in that condition. He congratulated me for overcoming a serious medical condition and gaining worldwide recognition as a wrestler. They’ve introduced scholarships in my name. Seventh standard syllabus has a chapter on my life journey now. I have a dream before I die; I want wrestling to be a popular sport in India. Indians are inclined towards cricket more than any other sport. I want to change this mindset.
You signed a death contract with the Commonwealth Heavy Weight Championship organisers.
It was a contract, which stated that if I died in the ring, it would solely be my responsibility. Frankly, it’s fine and I feel it was the media, which hyped it.
Your fiancé Payal Rohatgi was quite upset with you signing the death contract…
I respect her feelings but wrestling is my life. If you remove wrestler from my name, then who am I? Whatever I have achieved and wherever I have reached in life today is because of my passion for wrestling. It is my first love. When I was crippled, I dreamt of achieving what all I have achieved today. If not anything else, I always wanted to stand on my feet independently. And I’ve got much more than that because of wrestling. However, signing a death contract is easier than handling a girlfriend! (Laughs)
Is marriage on the cards any time soon?
I feel marriage? is just a word if you are really committed to a person. If you are gilded in love, marriage can wait. One should get married only when he/she is professionally stable. Right now I’m extremely tied up with my career so I don’t see marriage happening in 2016 at least. Next year may be! I have an upcoming show, a movie and my tournaments, so I need to focus on my career for now. I don’t believe in temporary relationships. I want to settle down with Payal, and she knows this since we have a great mutual understanding.
Don’t your films and TV shows hinder your fitness regime and wrestling?
For past 16 years, I have been eating post workout only. My fitness regime has helped me heal, and now I look at it as a way of life, so it’s always going to be my priority. No matter what, I make sure I work out twice a day. I don’t sleep for more than six hours a day. If you want to stay fit, you should eat less, work more and go the natural way.
Then how do you manage shooting for TV and films
Like I said, my first priority is wrestling. There is so much to learn in this world and I’m still learning. TV shows are a part of the learning process. I got cold feet before I did Nach Baliye, but I think I can now shake a bit. Besides my wrestling, I can do on one big show in a year. I’ll be soon launching my show; also I have a biopic lined up. I’m open to movies but I believe in quality work over quantity.
You’ve been also working on your wrestling academy…
I feel it’s my duty to reciprocate whatever I’ve got from wrestling. I want to take it forward as a sport. I’m initiating a sports centre at my village Madina, for young wrestlers. If I’m able to make a difference in few people’s lives, I’ll be content. I want to establish many wrestling academies in India. I don’t want any child to go through financial crunch like I did. I’m no big shot but I strive to make a difference in childrens lives.
RMBRCN celebrates Charter Presentation & Installation, Rina Sinha becomes Charter President
The Rotary Means Business chapter of Rotary Club Of Nagpur (RMBRCN) celebrated their Charter Presentation and Installation of Board on September 17, 2023 in a crisp official ceremony at Hotel Centre Point, Nagpur.
Rotary Means Business encourages Rotarians to support the success of their fellow Rotarians by doing business with them and by referring others to them.
Charter President Past President Rtn Rina Sinha presided over the ceremony. Renowned entrepreneur and Rotarian Aspi Bapuna, Chairman of Bapuna Group, was the Chief Guest and Rtn Namita Sharma, President of RCN, was the Guest of Honour.
The Board of Directors of RMBRCN include Rtn Navneet Jain, Vice President, Rtn Mohammed Master, Honorary Secretary, Rtn Sanjay Aggarwal Treasurer, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia Director Chapter Service, Rtn Rahul Shrivastava, Director Vocational Service, Dr Ruchi Choudhry, Director Membership Development, Ranjana Duseja, Director Attendance.
Past Rotary District Governor (PDG) Shabbir Shakir, Past Presidents- Bharat Goenka , Khushnoor Chugh, Sanjiv Chugh, Akhtar Parvez, Tejinder Singh Rawal, Alok Goenka, Jerestine Watchmaker, Sandeep Dhodapkar, Sanjay Arora, President RMB Nagpur, and Behram Patel and Amitabh Sinha were present.
President Rina Sinha informed that within a short period of its formation already 48 members representing various businesses have joined the chapter and the numbers are increasing . The Chapter has already crossed 5 crores of business amongst their members and RMB will further strengthen Rotary in membership growth and retention .
Chief Guest Rtn Aspi Bapuna lauded the chapter’s success and reiterated that its comfortable and safe to do business among fellow rotarians as all follow the Four Way Test of Rotary. Jerestine introduced President Rina. Aspi Bapuna presented the charter and installed President Rina Sinha . Rtn Namita congratulated the RMB chapter and informed that this is the new initiative at RCN.The Board was installed by Rina Sinha and all members were installed by the Past Presidents. An exclusive digital Monthly Magazine ‘Growth Engine’ was launched by Editor Niharika Chugh Vali.
Navneet Jain and Rahul Choudhry conducted the referral and thank you session where enthusiastic members informed about their successful business details. Nishchay Sinha launched the social media and MYRMB app which connects members to other chapters digitally, Treasurer Sanjay Agarwal gave treasurers report, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia managed the event. Rtn Parag Datey and Niharika were the Masters of Ceremony (MOCs). Secretary Mohammed Master proposed the formal Vote of Thanks .
Nitin Gadkari inaugurates double-decker electric bus availed for senior citizens in Nagpur
Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday, inaugurated the double-decker electric bus designed for senior citizens in Nagpur. The initiative has been undertaken in association with Ashok Leyland’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Committee and Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan.
Executive President of Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan Datta Meghe, Vice Chairman of Ashok Leyland Limited Yash Sachar, CEO of Switch Mobility Mahesh Babu, and other dignitaries were present during the inauguration.
“I am very thankful to Ashok Leyland’s electric vehicle arm ‘Switch Mobility’ for donating an electric bus for our senior citizens. The bus can hold a capacity of 65 people and will benefit a lot to disabled and senior citizens,” Gadkari said.
“We already have a green Electra bus available to us for the past five to six years. Krishna Reddy has taken the responsibility of repairing and providing air-conditioning to the bus, moreover, he is providing us with one additional bus. A Tata Motor bus will be arriving this month as well, giving us a total of four buses to operate. This will solve the issue of waiting list due to the lack of buses for senior citizens in the city.” he added.
With the help of these buses, senior citizens can avail the benefit of free trips to religious places like Ambhora, Adasa, Shegaon, Mahur, Dhapewada, and Kalamb.
Nagpur: Married man accused of girlfriend’s rape commits suicide on Facebook live
A 38-year-old married man named Manish alias Raj Yadav, on Sunday, committed suicide during a Facebook live-stream after allegedly being accused of rape by his girlfriend and her family in Nagpur.
During the live stream, Manish, who was married and a father to three children, stated that his 19-year-old girlfriend, Kajal, along with her family members demanded a sum of five lakh rupees and threatened to press charges of rape if he failed to do so.
On September 6, the situation became grave as the woman’s family accused him of eloping after Kajal went missing from her residence.
The deceased refused the claims of having any sexual relationship with the woman and identified her, her family, and a photo studio operator responsible for his condition. He, then, jumped into the river.
After the live video surfaced online, Kalamna Police launched a search operation and recovered the deceased’s body from the river. Four people have been detained in the case for questioning. Further investigation is underway.