K.D. Singh made his foray into active Hockey with a tournament played at Dewa Mela, and in the year 1937 represented his College Hockey team in an Inter-College tournament. At a young age of 15 years he played for the LYA Club, Lucknow at the Trades Cup in Delhi. In the tournament, he managed to dodge Mohammed Hussain, a famous Hockey player of that time. He played for the Hockey team of Uttar Pradesh in all the National tournaments continuously from 1939 to 1959.
As a player
He was first selected to the All India Hockey Team in 1946-47 for the tour to Afghanistan. He played in the capacity of vice-captain in the 1948 Olympic Games. He was the captain of the Indian team at 1952 Helsinki Olympics Games. The Indian team won a gold medal on both occasions. The 1948 outing was the first Olympic participation of India as an independent nation, which made the gold medal victory a very important achievement for the nascent nation even though it had won the Olympic gold in 1928, 1932 and 1936.He was made captain of the Indian team in 1949, this year out of 236 goals scored, he had netted 99 goals, maximum by any member of the team.
As a coach
He later served as the coach for Indian hockey team for the 1972 Munich Olympics. K.D. Singh Babu was a member of numerous organisations that include All India Council of Sports, Railway Board, Rifle Association of India and Wild Life Protection Committee of Uttar Pradesh.
Honours and memorials
- K.D. Singh Babu received the Helms Trophy in 1953 for being the best hockey player in the world (1952) and the best sportsman of Asia (1953). This was the first time an Indian was awarded the Helms Trophy
- In 1958 he was awarded the prestigious Padmashri award by the Government of India.
- The stadiums in Barabanki and Lucknow are named after him. The stadiums at Lucknow and Barabanki both are known as the “K. D. Singh Babu Stadium”
- A street in Barabanki city connecting Chhaya Chauraha and Lucknow-Faizabad Road is named after him.