September 18, 2019

Sajjan Singh Cheema: Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame

From dominating on the basketball court to substituting into a career in politics, Sajjan Singh Cheema has always been used to the public eye, especially in his home-state of Punjab. Now, the former star adds a new accolade into his book: the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cheema was born in the Dabulian village in Punjab in 1957, in the Kapurthala district which has been one of the hotbeds of Indian basketball since the introduction of the game. He studied in the Sports College in Jalandhar, and it was only at age 19 that he began to turn towards basketball, with an inter-university tournament in Jaipur.

Cheema quickly became a dominant player in the state, and eventually broke into the national team. He played for India in the FIBA Asia Basketball Championship teams in 1981, 1983, and 1985, and represented the country in the Asian Games in 1982. In 1983, he was honoured with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award. He retired from the game in 1994, and in 1999, he joined a select list of basketball players to win the Arjuna Award, one of the highest honours for Indian athletes.

Cheema comes from a family of basketball players, as his brothers Balkar Singh and Gurmeet Singh and his cousin Kuldeep Singh Cheema also played at the international level. His daughter Guneet Kaur has played for Punjab at the youth national level.

Off-the-court, Cheema turned his attentions further into public service, serving as an SP (Superintendent of Police) with Punjab Police and additionally the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) in Ludhiana. In 2017, he entered politics contesting from an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket from the Sultanpur Lodhi contituency in the 2017 Assembly Elections. He left AAP to join the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) later that same year.

Click here for more of the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.


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