Chapter 20

Book LaunchChapter1Chapter5Chapter6Chapter14Chapter18Chapter20

Kabbadi is a popular sport which originates from the Indian Sub Continent. The aim of the game is to score points by raiding into the opponent’s court and touching one many defence player without getting caught on a single breath. The game raises great passion, drama and excitement. The Gravesend Kabbadi Team of the 1960’s is till talked about today, with people such as Meeta Singh Dhesi, Ajit Singh Khaira, Jit Singh Gill and Tehal Singh Sandhu greatly respected not just in Gravesham but around the UK.

Life in India

“Sandhwan is the name of the village where I am from. It was in the district of Jalandhar but is now in the district of Nawanshar in the Punjab. My father Bakshish Singh Sandhu was a farmer back in India before he came over to the UK in 1955. He was also known as a good wrestler.”

“Before coming to England I was studying in school. The school was in the village of Pharala. Sandhwan and Pharala shared a school. At the time there were not many schools that did studying beyond Class 10. I was also involved in wrestling and Kabbadi back in India, but we used to play people in the same weight class. I was 15 and half years old and I came in May 1964 by myself, then my mum came over a little later.”

Tehla Singh Sandhu

“My village in India is called Patara and is located in the District of Jalandhar and situated 5 miles away from Jalandhar City. My village is well established and quite big. My father Piara Singh was in the British army and was a retired Subedar Major, but he sadly passed away in an accident when I was 15 years old. We lived in a joint family when my father past away, my uncle Bhagat Singh who was my dads younger brother had one daughter. He took care of our family and adopted me as his own son. I have two older brothers and two sisters, I am the middle child. I was studying at Khalsa College in Jalandhar before I moved to the UK. I was also very active in playing Kabbadi in my village”

“I came to England in August 1962. At that time there was a voucher system in place, which allowed skilled people entry into the UK. I applied on the basis of my father being in the British army and I was approved. I was 17 years old when I got my voucher. I was the first sibling to leave my family to travel abroad.”

Devinder Singh Patara

“I was born in a village called Khaira Majja which is situated in the District of Jalandhar in the Punjab in Northern India. My father Channan Singh was in the army and served in Singapore. When he was released from duty he then became a Police officer rising to the rank of Superintendent. After retiring my father then entered the education department and became a School Inspector. He served first in Jalandhar and then in Bengal, and eventually he then returned to our home village. I completed my education in a school in my village, and I then went into higher education at Khalsa College in Jalandhar. Whilst I was studying at Khalsa College I pursued an interest in Kabbadi, the Punjabi sport. I had already started a team in my village. I played for my college team and then went on to play for the district which was a great honour. Eventually I moved to England in June 1962.” “I was 19 years old at the time when I moved across to the UK and was the first member of my family to travel to England. I travelled to the UK by air. Back then passports were made in Delhi so I travelled from Jalandhar to Delhi to have my passport made at the passport office. At the time there was only one person from my village who had travelled across to the UK.”

Ajit Singh Khaira

“I am from the village of Aharana which is in the district of Hoshiarpur. I was very heavily involved in Kabbadi from a young age. I used to be part of my schools team. We won the district championship for our Government school Aharana Klana and I also managed to represent Punjab at junior level.”

Jit Singh Gill