Won gold medals in 1948 and 1952 Olympics
Padma Shri in 1960
Kunwar Digvijay Singh, usually known as K.D. Singh “Babu” was an Indian Hockey player who is considered to be one of the best Inside Rights that Indian Hockey has ever witnessed.
He was born on the 2nd of February 1922 at Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh to Raibahadur Thakur Shri Raghunath Singh, a famous lawyer, social activist and Tennis player of the town. Belonging to a socially enlightened family, K.D. Singh had begun participating in social activities and causes right since his early childhood. A brilliant student as well as a talented sportsperson, he was ahead of others in every field. He received his early education at the Government High School, Barabanki and Kanyakubj Inter College, Lucknow.
Introduction to Hockey
K.D. Singh made his foray into active Hockey with a tournament played at Dewa Mela, and in the year 1937 represented his College Hockey team in an Inter-College tournament. At a young age of 15 years he played for the LYA Club, Lucknow at the Trades Cup in Delhi. In the tournament, he managed to dodge Mohammed Hussain, a famous Hockey player of that time who had played in the Olympics. The newspapers devoted ample coverage to K.D.’s skills and prowess as a Hockey player. He played for the Hockey team of Uttar Pradesh in all the National tournaments continuously from 1939 to 1959.
After the World War II was over, in the year 1946 the Indian Hockey team was sent to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and K.D. Singh was selected to represent the team. Afterwards, as a part of the Indian Hockey team he toured Afghanistan in 1946-47 and British East Africa (Kenya), Uganda and Tanzania in the year 1947 under the Captaincy of the Hockey wizard Dhyan Chand. He was named the Vice Captain of the Indian Hockey Federation team that visited East Africa in the year 1949, and the Captain of the team that visited Afghanistan in the same year.
K.D. Singh “Babu” has twice been a part of the Indian Hockey squad that visited the Olympic Games. At London Olympic Games 1948, he was named the Vice Captain of the Indian Hockey team that grabbed a Gold Medal at the event. He was the Captain of the Indian Hockey team that participated at Helsinki Olympic Games 1952. This time too, the Indian squad emerged as the Gold Medal winner.
He was a part of the Indian team that visited New Zealand in the year 1955, and was named the Assistant Manager of the Indian squad that visited Africa in 1959. Further, he served as the Coach of the Indian Hockey team that visited Hong Kong in the year 1966, and played at Munich Olympic Games 1972.
Apart from being an excellent Hockey player, K.D. Singh “Babu” was actively involved with a number of other organizations and served them in different capacities. He was engaged with All India Council of Sports, Railway Board, Rifle Association of India and Wild Life Protection Committee of Uttar Pradesh. He died of a gunshot from his own weapon on 27th of March 1978 at Lucknow. It is assumed that he committed suicide, as he was facing some serious personal issues.
Awards and Achievements
K.D. Singh “Babu” was honored with the Helms Trophy for being the Best Hockey player in the World in the year 1953, and was the first Asian player to receive the award. The Government of India bestowed upon him the prestigious Padma Shri award in the year 1958. Apart from it, a sports stadium in Lucknow has been named after him, and is known as K.D. Singh Babu Stadium.