By Anvita Reddy
Athletes like The Phogat family, Sakshi Malik, Navjot Kaur, Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia have made the country proud by winning medals and representing us in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and the Olympics.
The following South Asians are conquering both the sport and the entertainment side of wrestling by bringing their talents to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
1. Gama Singh
Gama Singh, born Gadowar Singh Sahota, is an Indo-Canadian wrestler who became the first Indian-origin wrestler to sign with WWE in the early 80’s. Gama Singh did several overseas tours under the WWE as well as on TV as he defeated Johnny Rodz on Prime Time Wrestling. Currently, Gama Singh manages the Desi Hit Squad wrestling stable under Impact Wrestling.
2. The Great Khali
The Great Khali, born Dalip Singh Rana, is an Indian-born wrestler and ex-cop who was known for his insane height: 7’1”. In 2007, he became the WWE’s World Heavyweight Champion. During his WWE run, he founded a new match called the Punjabi Prison match. The Great Khali had a stint in movies and television including acting in “Get Smart,” “MacGruber,” and “Kushti.” He was also a contestant on the Indian reality TV show “Bigg Boss.” He chose his ring name “The Great Khali” after the Hindu Goddess Kali.
3. Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal, born Yuvraj Singh Dhesi, is an Indo-Canadian wrestler and nephew to Gama Singh. He’s currently signed with WWE and performs under the RAW brand. He has worked with The Great Khali, which included a storyline that made them brothers-in-law. Jinder Mahal became the 50th WWE Champion and is the first of Indian descent to do so. Earlier this year, he won the WWE United States Championship at WrestleMania 34.
4. The Singh Brothers
Samir Singh and Sunil Singh are an Indo-Canadian wrestling tag team and real-life brothers, born Harvinder Sihra and Gurvinder Sihra respectively. They are both signed to WWE under RAW. They helped Jinder Mahal secure the WWE Championship and defend it during several matches. Samir Singh also appeared in the 2015 Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra movie “Brothers.”
Akam, born Sunny Dhinsa, is also an Indo-Canadian wrestler currently signed to WWE where he competes under the RAW brand. He is a part of the tag team duo The Authors of Pain. Formerly, he competed in WWE’s developmental program NXT where he became the NXT Tag Team Champion and won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
6. Kavita Devi
Kavita Devi, born Kavita Dalal, is the first South Asian woman to sign with WWE. Her training in NXT, WWE’s performance training center, started January 2018. She made her official debut at WrestleMania 34 competing in the Women’s Battle Royal. We can’t wait to see Kavita Devi kick ass during her time in WWE and (hopefully) make an appearance on Total Divas!
7. Mahabali Shera
Mahabali Shera, born Amanpreet Singh Randhawa, is an Indian-born wrestler who signed with WWE on February 14th, 2018. He is training at the NXT Performance Center and doing live events under NXT.
8. Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali, born Adeel Alam, is the first Pakistani-descent wrestler to sign with WWE. He currently performs on the 205 Live cruiserweight brand. Mustafa Ali reached the finals of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at Wrestlemania 34 but unfortunately lost. He was the subject of a short documentary called “Team Taliban,” which delves into the issues that Muslim wrestlers face including being subjected to stereotypical typecasting as terrorists in storylines. This is also an issue Mustafa Ali himself is vocal about.
9. Amir Jordan
Amir Jordan is the first Pakistani born wrestler who is currently signed to WWE and is training under NXT. He is known as “The Bhangra Bad Boy” due to his signature entrance featuring the famous song “Mundiyan To Bach Ke” as well as “Your Naan’s Favorite Wrestler” (lol, get it?!)
“From being an ex-premed student to creating content for HerCampus and Spoon University, Anvita Reddy is breaking the South Asian norms and pursuing her passions. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Communications and Media and she is the Social Media Coordinator at MannMukti. She can also be found binge watching all things Bollywood and Hollywood. As an avid beauty and fashion junkie, she is often researching skincare on PubMed or at Sephora swatching her heart out. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.”