(Last Updated on : 19/01/2019)
Gama pehalwan was a wrestler in British period
who brought the Indian style of wrestling
to international sports. His original name was Ghulam Mohammad Baksh but he was mostly known by his ring name The Great Gama. After the partition Gama pehlwan moved to Lahore, Pakistan to live for the rest of his life. In the year 1910, he achieved the title Rustam-e-Hind. Indian wrestling
owes its popularity to Gama. Popular Hong Kong-American actor and martial
artist Bruce Lee was an ardent follower of Gamas training routine. Currently, a doughnut-shaped exercise disc called Hasli, which weighs 100 kg, is housed at the National Institute of Sports Museum in Patiala
; he used it for squats. Gama pehlwan died in Lahore on 22nd of May 1960.
Early Life of Gama Pehlwan
The "Great" Gama was born in Amritsar
, British India in 1882 in a Kashmiri Muslim
family. He was born to the renowned wrestler
Muhammad Aziz. At the age of 5 years when his father died Gama was taken care of by his maternal uncle Eida who died in 1960. Gama pehlwan was first noticed at the age of ten when he entered a strongman competition, which was held in Jodhpur
. It included many exhausting exercises, including Hindu
squats. The contest was attended by more than four hundred wrestlers and young Gama was among the last remaining fifteen wrestlers. At that point the Maharaja
of Jodhpur announced Gama as the winner due to his remarkable show of enormous stamina and dedication among all the wrestlers
. Maharaja Bhawani Singh
, the ruler of Datia
, a princely state of Madhya Pradesh
during the British Raj, patronized the young wrestler and his brother Imam Bukhsh.
Career of Gama Pehlwan
Gama pehlwan got the fame in actual sense at the age of 19 years when he challenged the then Wrestling Champion of India Raheem Baksh Sultani Wala. The contest with Raheem was the turning point in Gama's career. He was awarded with the Indian version of the World Heavyweight title on October 15, 1910. For the contest he sailed to England to compete with the western wrestlers. The American Benjamin Roller was the first professional wrestler to take his challenge. Stanislaus Zbyszko was the next to accept Gama's challenge. Within a minute, Zbyszko was taken down and remained 2 hours and 35 minutes in the position. They were set to face each other again and Zbyszko failed to show up and Gama pehlwan was announced the winner by default. He was awarded the John Bull Belt. To this date he is the only wrestler in history who remained undefeated his whole life.
Gama faced Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala in Allahabad, shortly after his return from England. He won the title of Rustam-e-Hind or Champion of India after beating Raheem. After beating Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, Gama pehlwan beat Pandit Biddu, one of the best wrestlers in India of that time, in 1916. In 1922, during a visit to India, the Prince of Wales presented Gama pehlwan with a silver mace.
As there was no opponent till that time, in 1927 it was announced that Gama pehlwan and Zbyszko would face each other. Gama threw Zbyszko in only 42 seconds. In February 1929 Gama pehlwan beat Jesse Petersen. Then he continued to put out challenges even by the mid 1940's but with an agreement, that if anybody wants to wrestle with Gama pehlwan he had to wrestle and defeat Imam (his brother) first. He did not retire until 1955.
Gama Pehlwan in Video Games
In the video game Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Gama appears as the mentor of Joachim Valentine, one of the characters who joins the player's party. In the Street Fighter EX series game, the character Darun Mister is also based on Gama pehlwan. The name Gama continues to appear in Bollywood and Indian television serials as a symbol of strength, often used humorously. Pro wrestler Gadowar Singh Sahota used the stage name of Great Gama during his pro wrestling career.