Jinder Mahal is the new number one contender for the WWE World Championship.
This came at the end of a six-pack challenge on SmackDown Live this past week, with Mahal defeating Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Mojo Rawley, Luke Harper, and Sami Zayn. That means he will go on to face Randy Orton for the World Championship in May.
Mahal winning was a shocking turn of events, as the young wrestler has suddenly been catapulted from a minor WWE player who makes occasional appearances into someone who will main event a WWE pay-per-view.
So who is Jinder Mahal, exactly, and how did he come to work for the WWE? Here’s what you need to know about him.
1. He is 30 Years Old & Signed With the WWE in 2010
Jinder Mahal, whose real name is Yuvraj Singh Dhesi, is 30 years old, making him the youngest person who competed in the six-pack challenge to become the number one contender this past week. Luke Harper is 37, Dolph Ziggler is 36, Erick Rowan is 35, Sami Zayn is 32, and Mojo Rawley is 30 but is exactly two days older than Jinder Mahal.
Mahal signed with the WWE in 2010, coming down to Florida to try out for the company and soon being given a contract. However, it was not until about a year later, on April 29th, 2011, that Mahal made his debut on SmackDown.
In a 2012 interview, Mahal said that he thinks the WWE was looking for an Indian wrestler and that this is part of the reason he was hired.
“I think they needed an Indian guy, they were looking for one,” he told Slam Wrestling. “We had matches and stuff and all the wrestlers came in their gimmicks. Well, I came out wearing a turban and had my full outfit on, and spoke Punjabi in my promo, and they liked that. They like guys who speak different languages and have different looks. My wrestling was pretty good, I had some pretty good matches. I did good at the drills and everything.”
2. He’s From Alberta, Canada
Jinder Mahal is one of nine current SmackDown Live superstars who is from Canada.
Mahal was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1986 and is of Punjabi Sikh origin. He went to college at the University of Calgary, earning a degree in business and communications. He also started training for wrestling in Alberta, getting his start at Premier Martial Arts Wrestling in Calgary.
There are eight other SmackDown Live superstars who are from Canada: Gurv Sihra, Harv Sihra, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, Tyler Breeze, Viktor, and Natalya. On Monday Night Raw, Chris Jericho is also from Canada.
Although he was born in Canada, Jinder Mahal is billed as being from Punjab, India.
3. He Started Off Feuding With The Great Khali & Soon Formed an Alliance With Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre
Jinder Mahal’s first storyline in the WWE was with The Great Khali, and he established himself as a heel right away, slapping Khali on an episode of SmackDown. A strange twist in the feud soon came when it was revealed that Mahal was married to Khali’s sister; obviously, this was not true in real life. Khali and Mahal then formed an alliance.
Over the next few months, Mahal engaged in a few random feuds with superstars like Ted DiBiase, Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Ryback.
In 2012, Mahal started a long storyline in which he teamed up with Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater; this team became known as 3MB, and their main role tended to be losing to other wrestlers.
“I think that every week we would go in and it would be an adventure when we would learn what we were going to do for the week,” he told Slam Wrestling. “We would always look forward to doing it to the best of our abilities. We prided ourselves on doing whatever — we could do serious matches, we could do comedy skits in the back. We did a lot of segments on the WWE App that they gave us a lot of creative freedom, and we would make the best out of them, trying to make them as funny as possible.”
Mahal went on to say, however, that he hoped to show another side of himself soon.
4. He Was Released From His WWE Contract in 2014 & Hired Back in 2016
While he was in the middle of his alliance with Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal was suddenly released from his WWE contract. Mahal said that this came out of nowhere and was rather unexpected.
“I was surprised, because we were pretty well booked on everything,” Mahal told Slam Wrestling. “We were on a lot of the live events, a lot of the overseas tours. We were always on Raw and Smackdown, and if we weren’t, we would do Superstars or Main Event in the week. So yeah, I was surprised.”
Mahal went on to say that he’s still young and wants to keep wrestling and maybe return to the WWE one day.
In July 2016, not long after the WWE draft, it was announced that Jinder Mahal was returning to the WWE. He made his return on an episode of Monday Night Raw, with Mick Foley telling him that if he beat Heath Slater in a match, he would get a WWE contract; Mahal ended up defeating Slater and getting signed.Earlier this month, Mahal was traded from Raw to SmackDown Live.
A few months after Mahal returned, fans began to notice that he was far more muscular than he was during his initial WWE run. This has lead some to speculate that he has been using steroids.
“My God, Jinder Mahal,” Dave Meltzer said on an episode of Wrestling Observer Radio. “…Jinder Mahal has changed his physique completely in like a couple of weeks, and he’s got acne all over his back, and, you know, whatever, he is what he is. If this was USADA, he would probably be in trouble.”
USADA is the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Mahal has completely denied any accusations of steroid use, addressing the speculation in a recent Instagram post.
He wrote, “I’ve been tested multiple times since coming back, and have never once in over 6 years with WWE had any issues. Follow my IG stories or my SnapChat and you can see that no one is out-training me, and no one is out-dieting me.”
5. His Uncle Is Gama Singh, a Former WWF Wrestler
Jinder Mahal was not the first person in his family to become a professional wrestler.
His uncle is Gadowar Singh Sahota, who wrestled under the name Gama Singh in the 1980s. Singh performed for the WWE during this time, back when the company was still called World Wrestling Federation.
Mahal wrestled with his cousin Gama Jr. for a brief time before coming to the WWE; according to Slam Wrestling, Gama Jr. also tried out for the WWE but was not offered a contract like Jinder Mahal was.
Mahal told Slam Wrestling that he didn’t think his family connections necessarily helped as much as some other things, including his business degree.
“They like guys who have educations,” Mahal said. “They asked me if I went to school and I said, ‘Yeah.’ I think they look for guys like that. It sure helps, it doesn’t hurt. It’s good to have something to fall back on if wrestling doesn’t work out.”