Two figures were a source of inspiration for millions of sports fans growing up in India of the 1950s and ’60s. One was a professional free-style wrestler who won international championships. The towering figure of Dara Singh seemed to symbolise the raw power and physical strength of a country that had been reborn as an independent nation in 1947. We all dreamt of acquiring his physical prowess to vanquish our foes.
The second figure was an epitome of speed who became a national icon who could run so fast that many tales were created around his running skills; some true, some false, which have even today stayed with us. It was said that once Milkha Singh was chasing a thief but outran him in seconds
without realising it, and was left wondering where the thief had vanished.
The man who quenched a parched nation’s thirst for success was a child of the Partition and the horrors it unleashed on a land divided into two nations – India and Pakistan. He had fled his village in Pakistan, having lost both his parents to the insane fury of a violent mob. He had survived in utter poverty on the streets of Delhi.
From being jailed for travelling ticketless…