Balbir Singh Sr. is one of the greatest hockey players to have ever played for India. Find more about his achievements and personal life here.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh
Also Known As:
Balbir Singh Sr.
Sushbir, Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir
Date of Birth:
10 October 1924
Place of Birth:
Haripur Khalsa, Punjab, India
Burnaby (Canada); Chandigarh (India)
Dev Samaj High School (Moga), DM College (Moga), Sikh National College (Lahore), Khalsa College (Amritsar)
India (International), Punjab State (National), Punjab Police (National), Punjab University (National)
Awards & Achievements
- Member of three Olympic gold medal winning teams (1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games)
- Silver Medal at the Asian Games 1958 and 1962
- Olympic record for most goals scored by an individual in men's hockey final
- First hockey player to be awarded the Padma Shri (1957)
- He along with Gurdev Singh was featured on a stamp issued in 1958 by Dominican Republic to commemorate the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
- He lit the Sacred Flame at the Asian Games 1982 held at New Delhi
- He was adjudged the Indian Sportsperson of the Century in a poll conducted by the Patriot newspaper in 1982
- He was named the Best Sikh Hockey Player in 2006
- During the London Olympics in 2012, he was honoured in the Olympic Museum exhibition, which told the story of the Olympic Games
- Hockey India conferred upon him the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015
Balbir Singh Dosanjh, also known as Balbir Singh Sr. is a former Indian Hockey player. He was a member of 3 Olympic gold medal winning teams - London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956) and captained the team at Melbourne Olympics. He set an Olympic record for most goals scored by an individual in men's hockey final by scoring five goals against the Netherlands in the 1952 Olympic Games. He is called Balbir Singh Sr. to distinguish him from 5 other persons with the same name who have represented Indian Hockey. He also served as the manager and chief coach of Indian team in 1971 and 1975 in Men's Hockey World cup. Indian team won bronze at the 1971 event while they were winners in 1975. During the London Olympics in 2012, he was honoured in the Olympic Museum exhibition, which told the story of the Olympic Games since its start till London 2012.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh was born on 19th October 1924 at Haripur Khalsa, Punjab and received his education at Dev Samag High School Moga, D M College and Khalsa Colege Amritsar. Balbir started playing Hockey at an early age, and was deeply inspired by the Berlin Olympics 1936 Gold Medal winning Indian Hockey team. He initially played for his college team - Sikh National College, Lahore but the Coach of Khalsa College Amritsar, Harbail Singh persuaded him to transfer to Khalsa College Amritsar. Thereafter he moved to Khalsa College in 1942 and began training and practice under Harbail's guidance.
During 1942-43 he was selected to represent Punjab University and he captained his team to 3 All India Inter-University titles in a row: 1943, 1944 and 1945.
He represented the team of Undivided Punjab led by Col. AIS Dara that won the National Hockey Championships in 1947. Thereafter, the partition of India forced Singh to move his family to Ludhiana, where he was posted in Punjab Police. He was captain of the Punjab Police team during 1941-1961.
Career in Olympic Games
Balbir Singh made his Olympics debut at the London Olympics (1948) in the second match against Argentina. India won the match by 9-1, and Balbir scored 6 goals including a hat-trick. In the final match against Britain, India beat the opponent by 4-0, and Balbir had scored 2 goals in the match.
At the Helsinki Olympics (1952), Balbir was appointed the Vice-Captain of the Indian squad, with K.D. Singh Babu as the Captain. In the semi-final match against Britain, Balbir scored all the 3 goals and the team won by 3-1. In the final match against the Netherlands, the Indian team won by 6-1, and Balbir had contributed 5 goals out of them, including a hat-trick. At the Helsinki Olympics, he scored a total of 9 goals.
Balbir was the Captain of the Indian Hockey team at the Melbourne Olympics (1956), and scored 5 goals in the opening match against Afghanistan. Unfortunately, he got injured during the match and couldn't play before the semi-final and final matches. In the final match, the Indian team fought against Pakistan and won the gold medal by 1-0.
Balbir Singh represented the Indian Hockey team at Tokyo Asian Games 1958 and Jakarta Asian Games 1962. The team won silver medal at both events.
He also served as the manager and chief coach of the Indian Hockey team for the World Cup Hockey 1971, where the team managed to grab a bronze medal. He was the chief coach and manager of the Indian team at the World Cup Hockey in 1975 and the team won the tournament.
Awards and Achievements
Balbir Singh Sr. was the first sports person to be honored with the Padma Shri award in the year 1957. He lit the Flame at the Asian Games 1982 held at New Delhi. In the year 2006 he was named the Best Sikh Hockey Player of All Times. Also, in a poll conducted by the Pioneer newspaper in 1982 he was adjudged as the Player of the Century. Hockey India honoured him with the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015
Personal Life & Family
Balbir's father Dalip Singh Dosanjh was an independence activist. He got married to Sushil in 1946. She hailed from Model Town, Lahore. He has a daughter, Sushbir and three sons, Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir and they all are settled in Vancouver, Canada.
Singh has written two books: his autobiography, 'The Golden Hat Trick' (1977) and 'The Golden Yardstick: In Quest of Hockey Excellence' (2008).