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Gama Singh made Great choices outside the ring
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


For anyone who didn't live through it, it's hard to fathom just how much Calgarians hated The Great Gama Singh.

A member of the evil Karachi Vice stable in Stampede Wrestling during the '70s and '80s, Singh would rile up sold-out crowds at the Victoria Pavilion to almost riot against him and his heel brethren.

Chants which would be considered utterly vile and racist today were par for the course in those days and the heat often bubbled over into Singh's real life.

"I used to get threats and have people swearing at me on the street or in the store," Singh told the Calgary Sun.

"Wrestling was different then. You had to portray your image 24 hours a day, starting the moment you stepped outside your house.

"Nobody wants to be hated but I understood that to be really successful in wrestling, I needed to be a bad guy."

In an era when wrestling was treated as a real sport rather than a showbiz spectacle, Singh tried hard to keep his family away from the negativity.

But Singh, who immigrated to Canada from India in the early '60s, holds no grudges against Calgarians for the racist catcalls directed at him.

"If I was a guy on the street, yes, I'd be offended," Singh said. "But because it was my bread and butter, it didn't really bother me at all. In fact, I was thankful for it.

"The more the people hated me, the bigger my paycheques were. That was my job and I loved it."

Today, Singh is the polar opposite of the heel character he played to perfection 20 years ago.

He is a soft-spoken, personable family man, living in Calgary with his wife and four kids.

Now in his early fifties, this wrestling villain could well be your landlord.

"After Stampede Wrestling, I continued to do wrestling tours around the world," Singh said. "But while I was making money wrestling, I started to invest in property. I got into the video store business and gas station business for a while but the rental property business is what I still do today. I own apartment buildings and homes in Calgary.

"I started planning early ... I think it paid off."

Unlike so many wrestlers from his era who wound up bitter, broken or dependent on drugs, he made smart personal choices which led to a happy life after wrestling.

"I always heard people talk about how wrestling will leave you penniless," he said. "So I made sure my lifestyle was different. I would go to sleep while the other wrestlers were partying. I stayed away from drugs and alcohol."

When asked if any former peers share his post-Stampede stability, Singh had trouble coming up with names.

"I know Chris (Benoit) and a few other guys who went on to WWE have done very well," he said. "But apart from that, I really can't think of anybody else. I feel very lucky to have made wise decisions."

Singh is also lucky to still have his health -- a rare blessing after being dropped on his head for a living for the better part of two decades.

"I have a couple of degenerating discs in my neck and my knees are still a little sore but after all those body slams and piledrivers, there's nothing too serious. I was very lucky," he said.

Despite his happy ending, The Great Gama admits he sometimes wishes he could re-live the glory days when half of Calgary wanted his head on a platter.

"I think all wrestlers miss it at some point. Sooner or later, we have to move on and have other careers and family but when I reflect back, I miss that excitement very much."


The New Karachi Vice
He may get to live it all again, though -- vicariously, through his son, Gama Singh Jr., and nephew, (Tiger) Raj Singh. The pair have formed a new generation of Karachi Vice, wreaking havoc on modern day Stampede Wrestling and partying in the ring like it's 1979.

"I felt proud when they wanted to resurrect and carry on The Karachi Vice," Singh said. "If they get an opportunity with Vince (McMahon), they have the talent to make it."

Gama Singh will make a guest appearance as the ringside manager for The New Karachi Vice at the Bad News Allen tribute show May 25 in Cochrane.

RELATED LINKS

  • The Great Gama Singh profile in our Canadian Hall of Fame
  • May 20, 2007: Curse of Stampede Wrestling?
  • Stampede Wrestling website
    Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!


  • Learn more about Stampede Wrestling and Canadian wrestling
    Order The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians
  • Order Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling