It’s been almost a decade since Rinku Singh declared his intention to become the first Indian-born player in Major League Baseball. He’s now changing course and setting his sights on the WWE.
“Here I am. I conquered the track and field. I conquered the baseball,” Singh says in a new promo. “Now here I am, sitting in the WWE Performance Center and going after my dream.”
In an in-depth profile recently published by Sports Illustrated, Singh reflected on his career to date and his journey from being a javelin thrower in rural India to the American minor league baseball system. The 29-year-old had never picked up a baseball before competing in the Indian reality show “The Million Dollar Arm” in 2008.
The show received international attention (and a fair share of skeptical blog posts) for its stated intention of transforming Indian cricket and track and field athletes into potential baseball pitchers. By winning, Singh earned $100,000 and instantly became the richest person in his rural North Indian village.
“We basically created ‘Indian Idol,’ but we took out the singing and put in pitching,” agent J.B. Bernstein — who created “The Million Dollar Arm” — told ABC News when Singh first began garnering attention in the press.
Along with fellow contestant Dinesh Kumar Patel, Singh would move to Los Angeles to live with Bernstein and train with former major league pitcher Tom House shortly after the show ended. “Some people, they think this is a joke, but we are serious,” Singh, then 19, would tell ABC News at the time. The Pittsburgh Pirates would offer minor league contracts to both players in 2009 and their story would be adapted by Disney into a film of the same name several years later.
But the transition into the world of professional baseball was not an easy one for Singh or Patel. Patel would last only two seasons in the minors before being released in 2010, while Singh would play in the minor leagues and abroad over the course of six seasons. Arm injuries and Tommy John surgery ultimately derailed Singh progress however and he had not thrown professionally since 2016.
While Singh struggled to figure out the next stage of his career, he began wondering about whether he could make the transition into professional wrestling. Singh told Sports Illustrated that he particularly admired the career of superstar John Cena, particularly how Cena promoted children’s charities alongside his wrestling career. He was soon invited to a wrestling tryout with the WWE in Dubai and quickly impressed officials with his dedication to training and willingness to learn what was, once again, a completely new sport.
Whether or not Singh eventually makes it to the world of professional wrestling remains to be seen, but observers and insiders Sports Illustrated spoke to are hopeful. As for Singh himself, he said he would continue to push forward towards his goal of making it as a professional athlete.
“I’ve been through a lot in my journey, and I’ve learned from it,” Singh told the magazine. “I have a lot of examples where I didn’t believe in myself and it didn’t matter how hard I worked, it didn’t happen. If I believe in myself, and if you’re totally committed that you’re going to make it happen, it’s going to happen for you.”