British wrestling history 

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S: Singh - Ski

Wrestling Heritage A - Z

Ajit (Arjit) Singh

A popular Indian wrestler in southern England during the 1960s was the head butt specialist Ajit Singh. 

Ajit was a good friend, and training partner of Dara Singh, with whom he can be seen in the photograph standing on the right, with Dara Singh in the middle, Tehal Singh Bhakar on the left hand side. Tehal Singh  was also a renowned wrestler, and cousin of Ajit Singh. He was son of Mela Singh Bhakar and brother of Gurbax Singh Bhakar, who went through his wrestling career in India undefeated, and after migrating to Britain became a very well respected member of the Sikh community.

In 1933 the barefooted light heavyweight was born in Lahore, which was in India at the time, but became part of Pakistan following the partition of India. Ajit began amateur wrestling when he was nine years old, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. 

Ajit's father moved to Singapore, where he was eventually joined by the rest of the family. It was in Singapore that Ajit turned professional. Eventually the family came to Britain, in 1948, setting up home in Manchester.

Ajit pursued his interest in wrestling under the tutorship of Martin Conroy before making his British professional debut in 1952; a winning debut against Rochdale's Dennis Keegan. Within a short time Ajit was wrestling around the country, often facing more experienced men like Danny Flynn Les Kellett and Arthur Beaumont.

Ajit made the first of his television appearances in April, 1957, when he lost to the considerably heavier Bill McDonald. Further televised contests against top men such as Steve Logan, Clay Thompson, Bert Royal, Ernie Riley, Ray Fury, Peter Rann and Jackie Pallo, were to follow up to 1970. Wins at the Royal Albert Hall over Alan Colbeck, Jean Morandi and Vic Coleman are testimony to the Ajit's standing.

Ajit trained his younger brother, Shem Singh, to wrestle and he too went on to become a popular 1960s wrestler.

From time to time he returned to India where he continued wrestling under the name Daljit Rao, (the name Ajit Singh already in use by a prominent wrestler). Following his retirement from British rings Ajit returned to India and settled in Mumbai, where he took up acting and also opened his own fitness centre. The gymnasium was hugely successful and many of the top Bollywood stars were regular visitors.

Following a long illness Ajit Singh passed away in May, 2009.

Amarjit Singh

1970s heavyweight from Punjab settled in Leicester where he formed a tag partnership with his cousin Joginda Singh known as the Bengal Tigers.

The family were good friends with Gentleman Jim Lewis, who had moved from Manchester to Leicester. Jimmy trained the Bengal Tigers and appeared in the ring with them under the guise of their manager. 

The Bengal Tigers worked mainly for Wryton Promotions and had a long running series of matches with the masked Undertakers.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Dara Singh 

Widely acknowledged as a legitimate World Heavyweight Champion, India's Dara Singh famously drew at the Royal Albert Hall in 1957 against his American counterpart, Lou Thesz.  He wrestled elsewhere in Britain through the late fifties and early sixties. 

His UK tours also worked, in typical professional wrestling style, as talent-hunting missions and many a British heavyweight would subsequently fly out to the Sub-Continent to face Singh in front of crowds of tens of thousands, often later nominating their 60-minute draw as the pinnacle of their own wrestling career.  Singh used the aeroplane spin as a speciality manoeuvre.

“Not the ears”  was a phrase we attribute to a certain London tearaway, but Dara Singh was equally averse to any opponent touching his ears.

Dara Singh retired from wrestling in 1983 and went on to become a Bollywood star.  He died in July 2012 aged 84, and it was heartening for Wrestling Heritage fans to note our own Charles Mascall quoted at that time in no less a publication than The New York Times, over 40 years after his own death, as placing Dara Singh tenth in the all-time rankings of Heavyweights worldwide. 

In spite of a high profile career and much adulation, the wrestling career of Dara Singh remains surprisingly sketchy and research is ongoing to understand the true extent of his success.

Heritage member Ian Dowland remembers a match between Dara Singh and Danny Lynch:

"He was a great guy, totally relaxed and very  enjoyable to be with prior and after that one match where I met him. I was told that Dara Singh had flown in from India just for that one bout as The Asian Committee in Southwell was funding his appearance.  The bout was very hard hitting and eventually Dangerous Danny Lynch was thrown from the ring and was counted out because he could not get back into the ring in time. Wrestler/Promoter Gordon Corbett was the promoter of that show at an old cinema that had been taken over by The Asian Community as their entertainment's centre.  After Dara Singh won his match and retained his World Title the audience erupted and set off loads of fireworks inside the theatre style venue, sky rockets, jumping jacks crackers and the whole lot.

Daula Singh (Tiger Daula)

Highly rated Indian heavyweight from the Punjab, he stood over six feet tall and was almost as wide.

Trained by his older brother, Fazal Daula, Daula was at his peak when he made his earlier visits to Britain in the 1930s.

"Referee," an Australian publication wrote in August, 1937, that following his tour of Australia Strangler Lewis would be visiting Britain:  "Strangler  will journey to England and put the kybosh on Tiger Daula, a big Indian at present busily engaged in breaking the bones of Pukka Sahibs in London." We have no record of such a match ever taking place but Daula did have wins over Francis St Clair Gregory, Bulldog Bill Garnon, Ray St Bernard and Martin Bucht. 

A very impressive legitimate wrestler he beat Strangler Lewis by two falls to one in Vancouver in 1938.  Worked around Britain as Tiger Daula, arriving first in 1936  before returning to India in 1939.

Returned in 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1963 as Daula Singh, working for Joint Promotions, with televised matches against Bill Verna (in September, 1957) and Dave Armstrong (in October, 1957).

Joginda Singh

One time farmer and 1970s light-heavyweight from Punjab settled in Leicester where he formed a tag partnership with his cousin Amarjit Singh known as the Bengal Tigers.

The family were good friends with Gentleman Jim Lewis, who had moved from Manchester to Leicester. Jimmy trained the Bengal Tigers and appeared in the ring with them under the guise of their manager. 

The Bengal Tigers worked mainly for Wryton Promotions and had a long running series of matches with the masked Undertakers.


 Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Rajendra Singh

The tall, slender Indian middleweight from Amristar made an imposing sight, especially when dressed in national costume prior to his contests.

We began to follow his career in the mid 1960s, watching him on the independent bills against the likes of Hamid Ali Gill, Stoker Brooks and Bob Sherry. By then he was already experienced on Joint Promotion bills, having learned the trade after joining the ranks of amateurs at the Dale Martin gym in Brixton.

At the time Rajendra was living in London, having been brought to Hackney when his parents came to the UK in 1948. At the time Rajendra was six years old. 

Success at school led to Rajendra passing his eleven plus, and attending the local grammar school. We recently came across this letter that 14 year old Rajendra sent to the editor of the Wrestling Ringsider. 

Thank goodness he received such a positive response, or the wrestling public may have been deprived of his talents!

On leaving school Rajendra started to work in a glass factory and when he was about 18 years old he began to wrestle for fun at the weekends and in the evenings.

His interest in wrestling was inherited from his father, Mela Singh, a heavyweight wrestler in India. Before turning professional Rajendra was an accomplished amateur at The Forresters and The Sparta Amateur Wrestling Clubs, before 

moving on to the Dale Martin gymnasium in preparation for his professional career.

Shortly afterwards he was signed up for Joint Promotions, working mainly in the south for Dale Martin Promotions. By the time we were watching Rajendra in the late 1960s he had moved to Preston.

Rajendra was at the time working for the independent promoters. Wrestling took him around the world, and amongst the friends he made was Dr Christiaan Barnard, the pioneer of heart transplant surgery (right). 

Rajendra was wrestling on television in Cape Town when the doctor saw him and asked to meet, sending a car to the hotel to collect him and take Rajendra to the hospital in which he had performed the world's first heart transplant.

Barnard was a regular at the Cape Town ringside, and was such an enthusiastic fan that when work prevented him attending he would ask a family member to go along to provide a first hand report!

Following his retirement from the ring Rajendra Singh worked as an interpreter for Lancashire Constabulary, and was the official interpreter in Preston Magistrates Court. He was also president of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple in Preston.

Rajendra Singh passed away on April 4, 2012.  Letters and tributes to the press that reported his death were testament to the esteem in which he was held in the Preston community.

Thanks to one of Rajendra's sons, Gurparshad Singh, for his help.

A photo album from Ricky Singh, son of wrestler Rajendra Singh.

Shem Singh 

Another of the popular Indian wrestlers who worked for both Joint Promotions and the independents in the 1960s and 1970s. Shem was the brother of Arjit Singh and a skilful but unspectacular middleweight. Born in Calcutta in 1929 he came to the UK from his home in Singapore in 1949, when he was nineteen years old .

Shem's father had first visted Britain in 1938, but returned with his family in 1949. He was a prominent member of the community in Manchester and founder member of the first Sikh Temple in Britain. Working in a factory and as a dock worker Shemsher Singh Bhakar's first love was wrestling. Although he had wrestled in India and Singapore it wasn’t until 1958 that Shem Singh made his UK debut, defeating Tiger Woods in Macclesfield.

Shem continued wrestling in Britain during the 1960s. Working for Joint Promotions he met some of the top lighter weight men in the country, making his television debut at Preston against the highly rated Bob Steele in February 1964, and returning to the small screen the following year to face Julien Morice. Opponents ranged from World lightweight champion George Kidd to the burly mid heavyweight Rough House Alf Cadman. In 1966 Shem moved across to the independents where he worked until the end of his career. It was on the independent circuit of the north that we enjoyed watching Shem in tremendous bouts against Hamid Ali Gil, Earl McCready, and Pete Lindberg.

Shemsher Singh is pictured above to the right of boxing legend Randolph Turpin, who turned to a wrestling career after his successful boxing career. Shemsher wrestled him twice, losing the first bout in Filey and then drawing the second in Bridlington. The photo was taken in a Worcestershire dressing room in 1960.

Tiger Singh (Gil Singh, Dalibir Singh)

Yorkshire and national amateur champion, who tried various names from his given name Gilbert, through Gil and Dalibir, to be known as the hard-working British Heavyweight Champion Tiger Singh.

He first caught our eye in independent rings as early as 1968, before debuting for Joint Promotions in 1972.

Gained his international wings when part of the Yorkshire contingent in the 1974 German tournaments. Never achieved much success at all in Germany and even by 1978 he was losing there to Barry Douglas, whom he would have been expected to defeat every time in the UK. In this sense he is the inverse of Caswell Martin.Singh fueded regularly with the similarly styled Ray Steele. Probably too regularly, an overdose of straight wrestling as antedote to the unbelievable excesses of Big Daddy and others.

One wonders whether the Crabtrees required their heavyweight champion to bottle any charisma to protect their elder member.

Josef Ski

Here's a man who certainly deserves a place in the A-Z but about whom information is scarce. A bald headed middleweight/light heavyweight from Poland he appeared in Britain in the late 1950s. It's easy to understand why he chose to use the name Ski rather than his family name of Sceszepanski.

At the time of coming to Britain he was already an experienced forty year old on mainland Europe, where he was particularly well known in Germany. On arrival in Britain in 1958 he unsuccessflly challenged Tommy Mann for the world middleweight championship and had a mixed bag of results against classy opponents such as Tony Lawrence, Harry Fields, Bert Royal and Mick McManus.

The list could go on because he spent much of  the years between 1958 and 1962 working in Britain, facing just about all the middleweights and light heavies of note as he travelled throughout the country, with a further championship challenge against Tommy Mann and European welterweight champion Alan Colbeck.

Following retirement from wrestling Josef took up refereeing in his adopted homeland of Germany.