Rinku Singh, one of the two baseball players from India who gained worldwide attention as part of the "Million Dollar Arm" reality show in India and subsequent movie about their lives, has taken another major leap by signing a contract to perform for the WWE.
Singh, 29, spent the better part of eight years as part of the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization before injuries ultimately put an end to his baseball dreams. After participating in a WWE tryout in Dubai in April 2017, Singh started down a path that ultimately led him to the WWE.
"I would have never dreamed, growing up as a skinny kid from a small village in India, that after many turns and crossroads, I've been given this fantastic opportunity in the WWE," said Singh. "The tryout was way different than what I had been through in baseball, or even back when I was training in track and field for the Olympics."
It's a long way from where Singh's journey began. He grew up in a rural village in India, but found success early in life in track and field, where he threw javelin and became a junior national medalist. He'd go on to win the "Million Dollar Arm" reality show created by agent J.B. Bernstein, and along with runner-up Dinesh Patel, he traveled to the United States to try to make a Major League Baseball roster. Despite not playing any baseball growing up, the two drew interest from and were eventually signed by the Pirates.
Singh played for the Pirates' GCL affiliate, several Class A affiliates and in the Australian Baseball League over the next few years, but injuries began to mount in 2013, and he had Tommy John surgery in 2014. Singh last pitched in the Pirates organization in 2016 before eventually returning to India to think through the next step of his life.
Singh, who spent a lot of time doing community outreach in Florida while he rehabbed injuries, found an opportunity in the WWE to translate his physical gifts, drive for success and desire to help others into one singular pursuit.
"As long as I can remember, I have seen the good things and the positive message that athletes bring to every part of the world," said Singh. "I want to inspire people like so many others inspired me."
Though he struggled with injuries over the last few years of his career, Singh has only positive memories of his experience with the Pirates. Going from an Olympic javelin hopeful to a baseball pitcher -- a literal Disney movie in real life -- required a major leap of faith, and he'll have to tap into that same mindset as he begins training with the WWE.
"Being in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, that was a huge change," said Singh. "I was basically coming from not even speaking English, didn't know anything about the game, but it all came together after working hard and going through that experience. I had an absolutely fantastic time with the Pirates for about eight years."
Singh will soon report to the WWE's Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, and because of his time spent playing and rehabbing in the area, he believes he'll have an easier adjustment. He won't have to deal with the culture shock that many other international recruits go through.
His ability to dream big and push himself into previously unknown pursuits should suit him well, and though the world of professional wrestling is still very new to him, Singh is already drawing inspiration from one of the WWE's biggest stars of the past 20 years.
"Look at John Cena," said Singh. "I'm a big fan of John Cena, not because of what he does in the ring, but for what he does outside of the ring. He's always out there putting a big smile on someone's face, and that's what I want to do."