Dara Singh (19 November 1928–12 July 2012) was a professional wrestler, actor and politician. He started acting in 1952 and was the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) of India. He worked as Hindi and Punjabi film producer, director and writer, and he acted in films and television.He is known for his role of Hanuman in film Bajrangi(1976) and in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan.
As an adult he was 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall, weighed 127 kilograms (280 lb) and had a chest measurement of 53 inches (130 cm). 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, Rikidōzan, Danny Lynch and Ski Hi Lee etc., his act of flooring King Kong is always remembered.
In 1954 Dara competed in Rustam-e-Hind (Champion of India) tournament where he won the final by defeating Tiger Joginder Singh and got a silver’s cup from Maharaja Hari Singh. In 1959, he won the Commonwealth Championship by defeating George Gordienko at Calcutta. On 29 May 1968 in Bombay, his victory over Lou Thesz earned him the World Wrestling Championship. His last tournament, where he announced his retirement, was held in Delhi in June 1983. In 1996 he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Singh left his village for Singapore in 1948. He started his career as an actor in 1952 with 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 Singh 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. He also had roles numerous films, such as Veer Bheem Sen and Ramayan, and in other television serials.
His last Hindi movie was Jab We Met and last Punjabi movie released before his illness was Dil Apna Punjabi. He acted in National Award winning film Main Maa Punjab Dee directed by Balwant Singh Dullat. He directed seven Punjabi including Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun, Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar, Dhyanu Bhagat, Rab Dian Rakhan. He also directed two films in Hindi, Bhakti Mein Shakti and Rustom (1982), which were produced and directed under the banner “Dara Film” which he set up in 1970.