By TIGER ALI SINGH – For SLAM! Wrestling
This Monday is the sixth Miracle on Main Street in my hometown of Milton, Ontario, and what a ride it’s been. It’s funny how, through the years, the wrestling accomplishments of my famed father Tiger Jeet Singh, and my own career, have dimmed, the memories fading. Yet we are more fulfilled and happy than we were during our time in the squared circle.
Charity will do that for you.
It’s helped keep my dad young, too.
People are always asking him, “What’s the secret to your youth? You keep looking younger.”
He always answers, “It’s happiness. I choose to surround myself with happiness. I choose to surround myself with positive people.”
And he gets a ton of fulfillment out of all these charity appearances, and I think that helps keep him youthful too.
It seems that wrestling was a vehicle that brought my Dad and I prominence, but we’re now known more for the humanitarian and philanthropy things that we are trying to do, through our foundation, the Tiger Jeet Singh Foundation, here in Canada and overseas.
We started Miracle on Main Street after my nephew, who was just five years old at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia. He spent a lot of time at Sick Kids’ Hospital in Toronto, and the Toronto Maple Leafs room at the hospital made an impression on me.
It made me want to create something during the holidays, an event where everybody could escape for a little while. I sat down with my friend, Troy Newton, and we talked about a toy drive, which would involve his restaurant. We wanted it to be portable, catered to the hospital or location.
Boy, has that ever happened.
At this point, there are hundreds and hundreds of kids that I have visited, and many that we help and never meet, through places such as The Salvation Army and Halton Women’s Shelter. One visit from a few of years ago stands out though.
It was a boy that had had his leg below his knee amputated at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton. We were his first visitors outside of family after his operation. His parents and grandparents were there and were very somber.
Our goal is always to help people escape, even if it is just for the few minutes we spend with them.
The grandmother — I think they were from a Greek background — she just embraced me so tight and for so long. She said, “That’s the first time my grandson has smiled in six months.”
How do you respond to that?
We actually get requests from the hospitals to visit terminally ill children in their homes. Sometimes they just have weeks to live. It’s incredibly moving and touching, but hard to do.
But I stand by my belief that every human being on the planet has charity in themselves and in their souls to be able to give, and work my way through it.
In a way, the whole Miracle on Main Street is a vehicle of sorts for other people to get involved, maybe where they didn’t know how to start before. We see it in the schools that we visit, where they have their own campaigns for Miracle on Main Street going.
As much as corporate support has grown — Techno Metal Post is our presenting sponsor, and big companies like Unilever have donated lifestyle products like shampoos and deodorant, and Samko Toys offered gifts — it’s the growth within the community that has meant the most.
And I do look at it as a community event.
My Dad and I use our celebrity and our ethnicity to promote a traditional holiday, Christmas, with a unique South Asian flair. We are saying that it’s a holiday for everybody. I think it’s even more pressing now, with so much more diversity coming into Canada.
What we’re trying to say is that when you come to Canada, it’s a celebration of all cultures. That’s what Canada is to me, and how I was taught by my parents.
So respect other cultures, and other holidays, and have fun with it too.
To that end, there’s my Santa-in-a-turban suit.
It started on a whim and has grown into something bigger.
Earlier this year, I was talking with the Mayor of Milton, and shared my plan to not wear the Santa Claus suit this year.
He said, “You can’t. It’s become a tradition. People are expecting that of you, and they are looking for it.”
It’s like a beacon that I don’t take myself too seriously, and neither should anyone else. We should just enjoy the moment and the holidays for what they represent.
The suit itself, well, it works out perfect for when I’m outside and it’s cold. The turban works as a hat to keep me warm, and with everyone else, you see their ears freezing.
It’s almost like going to private school, where you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to wear — you already know and it’s accepted and beloved by everybody.
But I do plan accordingly. We have been invited to a number of local schools — of course, it all started with the school named after my father — and when I go there and know I’ll be inside for a long amount of time, I’ll wear just a T-shirt underneath to not get overheated. If I’m outside, it’s a coat over a sweater.
Looking ahead, I don’t see us slowing down or backing down, as long as the community and the people want it.
It actually brings to mind a discussion I had with Mark Calloway, The Undertaker, who was someone that I held in high regard — and still do.
We were in the dressing room, and I said, “Taker, you’ve been wrestling for 20 years. How much longer?”
He turned to me and said, “Tiger, as long as they keep sending me the cheques, that means I’m wanted. Once they stop sending the cheques, I’ll know it’s time to stop.”
I think of that very fondly.
So as long as the people want it and there’s a need for it in the community, we’ll keeping running Miracle on Main Street. We’re just the vehicle.
Come say hi on Monday at the big event outside Troy’s Diner, 295 Main Street in Milton! It’s free and there will be lots of cool things going on, with part of the street closed off. There will be amusement rides, petting zoo, live entertainment and more — just bring an unwrapped toy. Celebrities will include Canada’s most famous hockey dad, Walter Gretzky, members of the Argos, Ti-Cats, Toronto Rock, Maple Leaf and NHL Alumni.
EDITOR’S NOTE: SLAM! Wrestling and its producer, Greg Oliver, is a media sponsor of Miracle on Main Street.
After his wrestling career with WWE ended because of injury, Tiger Ali Singh (Mick Hans) returned to Milton, Ontario. The Miracle on Main Street campaign is just one of his many contributions to the community. He can be contacted through the Tiger Jeet Singh Foundation website.