Bengaluru, February 23: India isn't known for producing baseball players, but in late-2008, there was a reality show contest called "The Million Dollar Arm", looking to find a baseball player. And in the contest Rinku Singh Rajput was triumphant with an 89 MPH fastball, despite never playing the sport before.
After this incredible feat, the Uttar Pradesh athlete was signed by MLS side, the Pittsburgh Pirates. His success story was later made into a movie called "Million Dollar Arm" by Disney.
In 2013, Singh's career hit a roadblock as he needed a surgery to fix a snapped elbow. He, however, pitched again in 2016, but managed to make only one appearance as he needed another surgery as he suffered another injury when his elbow snapped again while throwing a pitch during his rehab.
After the 2016 season, Singh decided to move on from baseball and surprisingly went on to become a professional wrestler in the WWE. He is currently in the NXT program of the WWE, which is the platform for stars before they make the move to biggers brands like Raw and Smackdown.
The 30-year-old currently works in a team with fellow Indian wrestler Saurav Gurjar, and he spoke to myKhel on his journey from pitching to wrestling.
MyKhel: When did you decide to pursue career in WWE?
Rinku Singh: After leaving the baseball in 2016. That's when I really thought of what's next in my journey. So, yeah, in 2016 is when I decided to move forward with the WWE.
MyKhel: How has your journey been with WWE NXT so far?
RS: So far it's been loving, I'm having so much fun travelling and training hard. It has been an absolutely amazing journey. There is no other way that I can describe it then being in the ring one day in India, to show the expression and the pride. Then how much we love what we do.
MyKhel: How do the big stars help newcomers like you at the performance center? Does anyone advice you on your future?
RS: Absolutely (they help), whenever we get an opportunity from guys who come from Monday Night Raw and the main roster, they come to the performance center and even the NXT stars who have been there for a while, they are always there to help us. We ask them questions all the time. Whenever somethings don't make sense, we go to them. They have always been of help.
MyKhel: You have spent a year in the developmental scene, how have things been there?
RS: Things are going very well. I feel like everyday there are new things to learn. Its not a one day thing that you go out there learn it all and become a WWE Superstar. It's like daily grinding and you have to give it your all on a daily basis that you want this (to become a pro). So far, its been very great and I can't wait to make it to the main roster, to come to India and fight.
MyKhel: What's different right from training to performing in baseball and WWE?
RS: Physical part in WWE is way different than baseball. In baseball we go through training a lot, but not as much as we do in the WWE. I mean, in WWE we train Monday to Wednesday 9 AM till 6 PM, Thursday to Saturday we train from 9 AM till noon. And when we go on road for the show we go to bed around 1 AM or 2 AM and wake up the next moring and we are back at it again. Even Sundays, though it's a off day we continue focussing on being helathy by eating right and staying fit. In baseball, we have everything lined up. In wrestling we put our body's on the line.
MyKhel: Any positive update on main roster or NXT TV appearance?
RS: Its all about the experience. For me and Saurav, us being in the tag team is all about experience and I feel like once we learn all the crafts and techniques we'll make it there soon. But you can never say what's going to happen tomorrow. We definitely want to make it and become the first tag team from India. Whatever it (future) is, its all upto the guys at the top.
MyKhel: Who is your favourite WWE superstar?
RS: My favourite is John Cena.
MyKhel: Message to fellow Indians who will showcase their skills at WWE tryouts?
RS: My advice would be to take the opportunity very seriously. Because they won't come knocking on your door twice. It'll come your way once and either you take it or regret it for the rest of your life. Give more than a 100% like you want to be somebody. You want to do something for your country, for your community. You want to give it all you got. If you make it, it'll be good for our country, good for our family, good for everybody. Take it seriously, and don't quit.