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When the Great Khali Slogged it Out to Earn Rs 5

With his penury-struck parents unable to even afford his fees of Rs 2.50, the Great Khali had to drop out of school and take up a plantation job available in the village to earn Rs 5 a day at the tender age of eight.

Press Trust Of India

Updated:January 30, 2017, 1:09 PM IST
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When the Great Khali Slogged it Out to Earn Rs 5
Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Delhi: With his penury-struck parents unable to even afford his fees of Rs 2.50, the Great Khali had to drop out of school and take up a plantation job available in the village to earn Rs 5 a day at the tender age of eight.

His formative years were nothing if not full of turbulence. From leaving his school to working as a daily-wage labourer, Dalip Singh Rana has done it all. He was often the subject of ridicule due to his extraordinary size.

However, a determined Dalip relentlessly pursued his goal of wrestling and such was his passion that he did what no Indian had done before: enter the internationally acclaimed WWE arena.

"The Man Who Became Khali", written by the wrestler along with Vinit K. Bansal, is a no-holds-barred account of the man who not only went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship, but also conquered his inner demons and physical anomalies.

It is the story of how Dalip Singh Rana became The Great Khali. The Great Khali had a difficult time in school. His friends laughed at him, he could not understand what his teachers taught and on top of it, his parents could not even pay his fees.

"It was the summer of 1979; the monsoon was awaited and there wasn't any money left for the fees since the crops had dried out. Almost a month had passed since I moved to class II and the principal was accosting me on a daily basis for not paying the school fees.

"Then one day, my class teacher abused me in front of the entire class. The other students sneered at me and made fun of me," writes Khali in the book published by Penguin Random House.

He then decided not to go to school again.

"My schooling ended forever and so did my education. My mind was inclined to work — to work for my family and to support my parents," he says.

The pain of poverty had by then reached its highest level. "One day, when I was with my father, the mat (account keeper) came to him and informed him about a plantation job available in the village. He said that every worker would be paid a sum of Rs 5 per day.

"As soon as I heard that, my eyes gleamed with excitement. For me, a sum of Rs 5 per day was a huge amount. It struck me that not long ago, we didn't even have Rs 2.50 for my school fees. Compared to that, Rs 5 seemed like a jackpot! I was motivated to work hard for it," Khali writes.

But the mat wasn't impressed. Khali was only eight years old at that time and the task demanded power and stamina; no eight-year old was fit for the job.

His father too was strictly against it and refused to listen, but later Khali's determination to help with the family's situation made him talk to the mat who finally relented.

The work was with the forest department for its new campaign to plant some trees in the village.

"I had to work at the plant nursery, which was situated some 4 km down the hill. I had to collect the plants, carry them on my back, travel uphill to the village for another 4 km and plan them. Once all the trees were planted, I had to go back again and get more seedlings," the wrestler recalls.

And when work on the first day was completed, the mat was happy as Khali did three rounds of planting. The account keeper took out a small bag from his pocket and took out a five rupee note and gave it to Khali.

"That moment is still fresh in my mind, as if it was only yesterday. It was an inexplicable feeling, something that till date counts as one of my happiest memories. My first earning! I was on cloud nine," he says.

According to Khali, his first real job was, however, as a body guard of a businessman who owned a number of restaurants in Shimla. He was paid Rs 1,500 a month and food and lodging expenses were also taken care of.

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