In the world of professional wrestling, where larger-than-life characters and epic battles capture our imagination, there are stories that go beyond the ring. One such story revolves around The Great Khali, his humble beginnings, and a fateful accident that cast a shadow over his career. This is the tale of a wrestling prospect named Brian Ong, whose dreams were tragically cut short in a wrestling ring.
The Great Khali: Rising from Humble Origins
Before he was known as The Great Khali, Dalip Singh Rana grew up in a remote area of Himachal Pradesh, India. Born into a lower caste, he faced financial challenges from a young age. It was acromegaly, the same condition that made Big Show and Andre the Giant enormous, that gave Khali his imposing height of seven feet and one inch.
Growing up as one of seven siblings, Khali worked various odd jobs to support his family. His journey eventually led him to become a police officer in Punjab in the mid-1990s. It was during this time that he could afford his first TV and discovered professional wrestling, igniting a dream.
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The Early Days and The Handler
In the world of wrestling, some larger-than-life characters have handlers to control them both inside and outside the ring. The Great Khali had a handler by the name of Dr. Kumar, who discovered him and took him under his wing. Dr. Kumar’s influence was significant in Khali’s early wrestling career.
It’s important to note that Khali’s journey led him to the All-Pro Wrestling (APW) in California, where he was trained by the legendary Roland Alexander. APW had a reputation for producing top-notch wrestling talent, and Khali’s aspirations were aligned with this dream.
The Tragic Accident that Shook APW
In May 2001, tragedy struck during a training session at APW. Brian Ong, a promising wrestling prospect, was paired with The Great Khali for a practice session. The move they were practicing was a spinebuster, a complex and potentially dangerous wrestling maneuver.
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During their attempts, a critical error occurred. Brian Ong landed awkwardly and hit his head violently on the mat. He never got up, complaining of dizziness and moaning. An ambulance was called, but it was too late. Brian Ong was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
The official cause of death was determined to be an acute and subdural hemorrhage due to head trauma. Brian Ong was only 27 years old.
Legal Battles and the Legacy of a Tragedy
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In the aftermath of this tragic accident, Brian Ong’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against APW and Roland Alexander, not The Great Khali. The lawsuit claimed that APW failed to protect Brian Ong’s well-being, as he had sustained a concussion weeks before the fatal incident while practicing the same move.
The legal battle concluded in July 2005, with jurors awarding the Ong family a significant sum in damages. Wrestling schools in the Bay Area also faced consequences as insurance rates soared.
While the legal battle was centered around APW and its responsibilities, The Great Khali was deeply affected by the accident. He carried the emotional weight of the incident with him, despite his eventual success in the world of professional wrestling.
The Great Khali’s Journey to WWE
Despite the tragedy, The Great Khali’s wrestling journey continued. He was signed by WWE in 2005, where he became known for his immense size and unique character. He went on to become WWE’s first Indian-born world champion, making a mark in the wrestling world.
Today, The Great Khali is celebrated in India as a wrestling icon and has ventured into promoting wrestling through his Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE) promotion. Two of his students even joined WWE.
A Tale of Two Destinies
The story of The Great Khali and Brian Ong is a poignant reminder of the unpredictable nature of life. While one wrestler’s dreams soared to great heights, another’s dreams were shattered in a training ring. It’s a story that reflects the harsh realities of the wrestling world, where passion and peril often walk hand in hand.
The legacy of this tragic accident serves as a reminder of the risks wrestlers undertake, even during training, and the need for safety measures in the world of professional wrestling.
The story of The Great Khali and Brian Ong is a poignant one, underscoring the complexities and risks involved in the world of professional wrestling. It’s a tale of dreams and destiny, one that sheds light on the triumphs and tragedies within this unique industry.