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Rediff.com  » Sports » From baseball to WWE: Rinku Singh's inspiring story

From baseball to WWE: Rinku Singh's inspiring story

Last updated on: March 04, 2019 12:29 IST

'I want people to know that it doesn't matter where you come from, if you have guts, no one can stop you.'

Rinku Singh

Rinku Singh's long journey to the WWE is one of the most inspiring stories you will read.

From throwing the javelin to throwing sliders on the baseball diamond, the story of this young man from Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi district is taking another turn.

The former Pirates minor-league pitcher is finally taking the plunge into WWE's squared circle.

A junior national medalist in the javelin, Rinku, 30, was signed along with Dinesh Patel after their performances in Million Dollar Arm -- a 2008 reality television show.

After a six-month training stint, Rinku signed a professional sports contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Disney produced a film based on Rinku and Dinesh's ascent, Million Dollar Arm, with Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) and Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire) playing the Indian athletes and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) playing their mentor.

Rinku stuck around for a while, eventually reaching A-ball with West Virginia Power before arm injuries, including Tommy John surgery and a broken elbow, brought an end to his baseball career.

Last year, Rinku set his sights on the WWE and joined a contingent of 40 male and female athletes from India and the Gulf in an invitation-only tryout at the Dubai Opera House.

There, he won a WWE development contract as he impressed WWE's performance centre coaches.

Rinku reveals why he made the big career switch from baseball to World Wrestling Entertainment in this in exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Laxmi Negi.

 

What motivated you to take up WWE?

The number one reason was the opportunity to be the role model for the world.

No matter where you are, WWE gives you the voice in front of the world to inspire people, children.

WWE is one the biggest brands that goes all around the world. I could not think of any better way to be a role model than WWE.

Rinku Singh

What are you thinking when you take up a sport you have never played (the WWE) or heard of (baseball)?

To answer this, I have to start from the beginning of my journey.

I was a young skinny kid in India that nobody ever believed in.

Nobody believed that I would win a gold in track and field. I cut my own bamboo to make my own javelin.

I want people to know that it doesn't matter where you come from, if you have guts, no one can stop you.

People never thought that out of 80,000 contestants, I would ever win. I went out there and proved people wrong.

America never thought that an Indian kid would ever sign a professional contract.

Guess what, I was the first Indian to sign that professional contract in baseball.

Even though I didn't know anything about baseball, I went out there and did it. Played eight years of professional baseball.

And just when people thought Rinku Singh would never leave the baseball environment, here I am.

I didn't know anything about wrestling, but I wasn't scared to try it.

I am young. When you are young, you will have opportunities.

I was 29 when I made the decision, I thought I have the opportunity now, I won't have it tomorrow.

It is all about belief, when you believe that you can achieve it, you will.

If you have the determination of doing something bigger than yourself and making your family proud, no one can stop you.

That is what I have done.

And I like working hard. This is the third time I am changing my profession and all three of them are different.

What is the top most thing on your notebook? You are known to take notes for a long time during your training sessions.

It is not one thing. There are 100 things on a daily basis.

I believe in taking notes because I believe in the power of listening.

When I go home I read it again, memorise it.

Picturing myself before going to bed, doing the new things learnt.

When I get up again I go though it so that I don't make the same mistakes which I did the first time.

So it is always nice to take notes to improve yourself and not question the coaches again.

Taking notes have helped me so much in my journey.

There are few moves which I have been learning practicing, slowly I have been carrying in my matches, that will be a surprise for India when we do have shows in India. You will get to know that.

Rinku Singh

It seems you thrive in the limelight...After Million Dollar Arm, now the WWE. Have you thought of acting too?

Bollywood is one of my favourite things on the planet. Who doesn't know Bollywood? I love Bollywood and who knows maybe one day I will get an opportunity to work in Bollywood.

After staying in the US for so long you still wear a dhoti and greet people with a Namaste.

Bringing our culture in the WWE is very important. I feel there is no better way than this to represent our culture.

Dhoti, rudraksh, chandan Namaste gesture goes very well to represent our country and our tradition.

About the Namaste, it is very peaceful in our everyday life. But in the wrestling ring, we do Namaste in a very aggressive and intense way.

When our opponents hear that, it brings fear in them. It is going very very well.

Did you dream of all this when you started out?

I am living my own dream. You can dream anything, but the reality is different.

My dream is to be a WWE tag team champion in India.

After that I hope is to open a free education centre in India for underprivileged kids.

Rinku Singh

Do you have an WWE idol?

John Cena is my biggest idol.

Look at what he does outside the ring.

That man always -- no matter where he is -- makes time for kids. I love that about him.

Rinku Singh

Don't you think you deserve a movie?

I lived a very peaceful life in my village.

My father was a truck driver and I have three sisters and four brothers.

Two older brothers are in the Indian Army. The other brother represented India in long distance running.

Million Dollar Arm, the movie, focused more on the agent (the Jon Hamm character) than my personal story.

As a 17-year-old kid who jumped into a train from Lucknow to New Delhi... I still remember that day, not having any money in my wallet.

Being in a sports academy, catching the train and hoping to win the million dollars so that I could retire my father and build a home for my family. That's a very unique story.

When I make it to the main roster of the WWE maybe there will be a part two. But it will be more about my life.

I have been talking to few people in the US who want to do a documentary.

I haven't thought of a title, but I am more focused on the life that I have lived until now. I feel my struggling phase, a million people will relate to it.

But to be able to get out from there, to get out of the comfort zone and do the right thing for you and your family, that story is perfect for all our Indian youngsters to inspire them.

My story will tell them that you are not the only one suffering, look at me, I went through the same thing, but I chose to do great things.

So stop complaining, stop saying I don't have this or that.

Just get out of your comfort zone to be different and do different things.

Laxmi Negi / Rediff.com