Mumbai: From rising to fame through the ‘Million Dollar Arm’ show to his latest chapter in life being a stint in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Rinku Singh Rajput has certainly come a long way.
In 2008, Rinku Singh, the son of a truck driver, shot to fame when he was one of the two selected (the other being Dinesh Patel) for a baseball tryout in the United States.
What followed was a contract for the duo with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
And despite being out of action between 2013 and 2016, the Uttar Pradesh athlete went onto sign a contract with WWE in 2018.
The 30-year-old is currently working with fellow Indian wrestler Saurav Gurjar, and spoke in detail on switching from baseball to wrestling.
1. How was your WWE NXT experience last year?
Last year was absolutely an amazing experience. It was the best thing to happen. Things went very smoothly. I mean it’s expected at times that a transition like will have bumps in the road, given how new everything was for me. However things went really well.
From a coaching stand point, there were so many things that I learnt that added to my performance element and also the physicality of the whole thing. WWE is sports entertainment so while physicality and fitness are important, your mental strength and performance energy are equally important. I couldn’t be happier and I am really looking forward to 2019.
2. What challenges did you face while switching from baseball to wrestling?
I think the biggest challenge was the travelling. I mean in baseball we do travel a lot but not as much as we do in NXT. Everyday at NXT we put our body on the line to essentially put a smile on people’s faces and in order to do that, no matter where you are and what you are doing, you have to always focus on staying fit.
Also another challenge I would say for me was getting the mechanical stuff down in terms of the moves. Now that it’s been a year, things have calmed down a lot because I’ve adjusted to the training mentally and physically.
3.You turned vegetarian in 2012. Have you noticed a major difference in your fitness?
I definitely did. I did give up meat for two years during my baseball stint but I began eating meat again. While I know it can be seen as an excuse because I’m an athlete and hence I need meat, but I definitely found it hard to obtain the level of protein and nutrients needed to keep me in shape.
Also, living in America at times it is hard to find robust vegetarian meals that could essentially maintain the level of fitness that is demanded of me.
Regardless, I did want to see how diets could effect my fitness, so I did go back and forth between being a vegetarian and eating meat just to see the effects it had to me. While being vegetarian definitely helps me on a spiritual side, I feel having a certain amount of meat does help me from a fitness perspective.
4. Do you see a big future for Indian wrestlers in WWE?
Absolutely! I mean we are talking about a country that has the biggest fan following in the world for WWE. We have 1.3 billion people in our country and there is so much potential.
While cricket has always been a big part of our country, I do feel there has been a growing fandom for several other sports. We are hosting the Tryouts in our country for the first time and this is a clear indication of WWE’s focus to see more talent emerge from the region.
WWE’s evolved to give wrestlers from around the world opportunities and I definitely believe we will see a lot more wrestlers from India in WWE.
5) What are your future goals?
My future goal is very clear - to become India’s very first tag team with Saurav Gurjar. That’s my future goal.