A professional WWE wrestler has left the glitzy world of Hollywood behind to train the next generation of India’s wrestling superstars.
The 7ft 1in giant, known as the Great Khali, has returned to his roots by setting up a wrestling academy in a small village in Kaganiwal, India.
Born Dalip Singh, the 42-year-old left India in 2000 for stints in the US, Japan and Mexico.
But his big break came in 2006, when he became the first Indian pro wrestler to sign a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) – becoming the world heavyweight champion the following year.
Khali starred in four Hollywood films and several TV series – but now has his sights set on passing on his gifts to his pupils.
Determined to mould the next generation of WWE wrestlers, Great Khali teaches 50 students – including two women – how to dominate on the mat.
He hopes to send three wrestlers from his gym, in Kaganiwal village in Punjab’s Jalandhar district, to the WWE each year.
Khali, whose overwhelming physique led to his Hollywood appearances, charges his students fees of £150 per month to train the aspiring wrestlers.
And the former star has a tough attitude towards his prospective students.
‘WWE is a very tough game, not easy. But if someone has understood the game, it’s possible to be a great success,’ says Khali. ‘If you like it, you can stay, but if you can’t manage, then you should leave.’
One of Khali’s students, Rita Rani, is hoping to forge a career as a female WWE wrestler.
‘Now that Sir Khali is here, it’s good news,’ says Rita. ‘He is the godfather of India, he has opened up an academy and is helping out girls. He has so much respect for women.’
Three of his students have already made it to WWE, earning annual contracts of over two million US dollars.
‘There’s demand for this everywhere. India is a massive market in this field. Indian wrestlers are sought-after,’ he said.
‘I want to do something for my own country. I want to share the knowledge I have. I want to make thousands of Khalis.’