Mano Singh.
Sport - AS a young man, Mano Singh was fascinated by the power and athleticism of local and international wrestlers.

Fast-forward more than two decades and Singh, of Umhlatuzana, Chatsworth, continues to be an advocate for the theatrical sport.

The event organiser and director of World Wrestling Superstars has, over the years, provided South Africa with exciting tournaments, world bouts and cage matches.

“Due to the disadvantaged rand/dollar exchange rate of recent times, it has been a challenge to import and produce high-calibre international wrestling events. 

"However, wrestling is in my genes and I’ve had the privilege of connecting with current global superstars and am considering reviving the sport in the new year,” said Singh.

In 2005, he brought some of the biggest names in world wrestling to the Sahara Cricket Stadium in Durban, the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town, St George’s Cricket Ground in Port Elizabeth and the Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Johannesburg.

The World Wrestling Superstars headliners, in a tournament billed “Rumble in Africa”, included Samoan-American Rikishi; “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash; brothers Scott and Rick Steiner; Test; The Warlord; Barbarian and Munraj Singh (Gama jr).

In Durban, it drew a packed audience. Die-hard fans, including women, cheered and booed as they had done while watching television in their homes.

Singh said he had a deep passion for wrestling and had met many wrestling greats during his childhood.

“In the early 1990s, there was a void in the wrestling business after some of the promoters left, so I stepped in to fill that void. I shelved my career as a mechanical engineer and started the Universal Wrestling Federation (in 1991) with nothing more than a pipe dream.”

He was able to connect with wrestling greats like Gama Singh, Tiger Singh, Akam Singh, Danie Brits and Tornado.

But his first series of events was a financial disaster. “Some would have run away after their first major financial loss, but not me. I persevered.”

He managed to steer the organisation and built a company name that has become synonymous with wrestling in South Africa.

“Over the years, I’ve exhibited more than 800 matches in all major cities in SA. I took the roadshow internationally and promoted some 300 matches abroad.”

One of the most challenging times in local wrestling played out at the UKZN Westville Indoor Sport Centre when the legendary Indian-Canadian Gama Singh gained victory over Danie Brits, aka The Masked Tornado.

“In a world title bout, the 7ft 4 giant leaped into the ring and attacked Gama Singh. Fans took great offense and started rioting. Chairs were thrown and the ring was about to be set alight. Gunshots were fired, like in the wild west movies. One spectator was shot through the right side of his chest and the bullet exited through his back. Gama Singh had to cut short those series of events, as the wrestlers refused to perform unless security was beefed up. That was an incident I will certainly never forget.”

Singh said his vision was to stage tournaments as he had done back in the day.

“The aim is to feature some of the world’s most renowned wrestling superstars to motivate the youth positively, to be more proactive in sport and for the development of their health consciousness. I want to create a footprint - role models for future generations globally.”

He said wrestling attracted people from all walks of life, gender and age.

“It has a huge following and remains a family-orientated sport. There’s a high entertainment value - women and children are sometimes caught on camera jumping off their seats and singing and occasionally swearing at the opposition.”

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