WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

S: Rajendra Singh


Preston's Majestic Pride

Rajendra Singh

We vividly remember the first time we saw Rajendra Singh enter the ring. It was a majestic sight. The tall, slender Indian middleweight from Amristar made was an imposing figure,  dressed in national costume prior to his contests. We didn't realise at the time that here was a man who lived only a few miles away, known locally as Reg.

We began to follow his career in the late 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.

Rajendra Singh Gola, the son of  wrestler Mela Singh Gola, had emigrated to Britain in 1948 when he was six years old. The family had settled in Hackney, and it was here that his interest in wrestling developed.

A very able pupil at school led to Rajendra passing his eleven plus, a selective examination at the time which enabled him to attend the local grammar school.
We recently came across a 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.

Father Mela Singh was a well known 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 and was working for the independent promoters.  Rajendra became a highly respected member of the community  and was  President of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple in Preston.
Wrestling took him around the world, and amongst the friends he made was Dr Christiaan Barnard, the pioneer of heart transplant surgery (left). 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.

Rajendra Singh died 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, Ricky, for his help.
Page revised: 28/02/2020
Page added: 01/07/2014