Early Life of Gobar Guha
Jatindra Charan Guha was born on 13th March, 1892, in a family of wrestlers, Kolkata, Bengal, British India. His family was popular for pioneering, propagating and promoting the martial form of Pehlwani and its culture in Bengal. His father Ram Charan was also an expert in the Indian wrestling form as well as his other relatives. Gobar Guha was initially trained and guided by his Ambika Charan Guha, his grandfather. Later he trained from his uncle Khetra Charan Guha and his father Ram Charan Guha as well. His uncle was also the wrestling trainer of Swami Vivekananda.
After his basic level training, Gobar Guha trained rigorously under Rahmani Pehlwan and Kholsa Chaubey, both of whom were renowned and respected wrestlers in India. Other than his training in Pehlwani, Guha also continued his education and successfully completed his entrance examination from Vidyasagar School in the year 1910. Gobar Guha also received training in Hindustani Classical Music under Kukuv Khan and attended musical performances of Narendranath Basu. After he reached adulthood, Guha's physical appearance became comparable to best wrestlers of the world. His height was six feet and one inch in and weight 290 pounds.
Career of Gobar Guha
Gobar Guha made his professional wrestling debut at the age of 18, in the year 1910. In the first match, his opponent was the court wrestler of the Maharaja of Tripura, Navrang Singh. Gobar Guha did not accept any payment for his debut match. Later in the year, he was invited to participate in the world wrestling championship organized by the John Bull Society of London. Wrestlers from all over the globe were invited to compete in the event. In his first Europe tour, Guha competed in England, Switzerland and Italy. He went on his second Europe tour in 1912. Gobar Guha had fought a match against the highest-ranked wrestler from Scotland, Campbell. Guha defeated Campbell in the match. It was during this period, that he also met with the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, in Paris, at a wrestling championship.
Gobar Guha later fought against the Jimmy Esson from Aberdeen, popularly known as The Scotch Giant. He was a famous Scottish strongman and wrestler. The fight created much chaos as Esson failed to rise above Guha's performance throughout the match. Jimmy Esson resorted to illegal means to win the fight. Gobar Guha pursued his own path and beat the Scottish giant to the ring floor. From 1920 to 1926, he went on a third Europe tour and participated in the fight of his lifetime. He was pitted against Ad Santel, the World Light Heavyweight Champion and catch wrestler. Gobar Guha won the match that was held at the Coliseum in San Francisco on 30th August 1921. He was the first Asian who won a World Professional Wrestling Championship in the United States of America.
The next match of Gobar Guha was stipulated against Ed "Strangler" Lewis, who was regarded as the best professional wrestler. The fight created much controversy as Lewis resorted to foul play to defeat Guha and both the referee and the judges overlooked the offence. Due to an unauthorized boxer's punch by Lewis, Gobar Guha's head hit boards and he became unconsciousness. In 1929, he participated in another historical fight with well known Gama Pehlwan at Park Circus, Kolkata. The legendary fight portrayed all the traditional moves of Indian wrestling and Gobar Guha ended up in losing the match to a younger Gama, particularly on technical grounds.
Throughout his career, Gobar Guha had developed his own wrestling style which evolved the Indian combat form to the next level. He improvised and created his own wrestling holds such as Tibbi, Dhak, Pat, Dhonka, Gadhanet, Kulla, Tang and Dhobiya Pat. This moves were later included in the formal Indian wrestling techniques. But his most famous move was his vicious chop, called Radda.
Retirement and Death of Gobar Guha
In 1936, Gobar Guha revived and restored his ancestors Akhada (Gymnasium) at Goabagan that was established at Masjidbari Street. He eventually retired from professional wrestling in the year 1944. Gobar Guha died at the age of 79, on 2nd January 1972, in Kolkata, West Bengal.
His legacy is carried on by his disciple and his son Manik and other students namely Biswanath Dutta, Jyotish Charan Ghosh and Banamali Ghosh.