On the 144th anniversary of his birth, Indian wrestling legend Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt, better known in the West as Gama Pehlwan or “The Great Gama,” was honoured with a Google doodle.
Gama Pehlwan, born in Amritsar in 1878, was the most renowned figure in Indian wrestling at the time due to his worldwide success and widespread popularity off the mat. He passed away in 1960.
We examine the achievements of the legendary wrestler, both on and off the mat, and marvel at his illustrious career.
Gained Notoriety in his Early Twenties after Defeating Indian Boxing Great Sultaniwala.
Gama, whose given name is Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt, shot to fame after fighting Rustam-e-Hind (India’s champion) Raheem Baksh Sultaniwala to a draw. Even though the odds were stacked against him, Gama gave the experienced wrestler a good match. After all, a 5’7″ wrestler wasn’t thought to have a chance against a 7’1″ Sultaniwala.
After a heated struggle, Sultaniwala and Gama settled for a draw, but Sultaniwala was nearing the end of his career and had to discover ways to deal with Gama’s superior agility. Gama’s tough performance during the fight gained him praise and quickly established him as the frontrunner to succeed Sultaniwala as Rustam-e-Hind.
Earned the Title of World Champion in 1910.
Gama’s reputation as a 52-year-old undefeated wrestling legend led to invites to competitions all around the world. His opponents rarely lasted more than a minute against him. And on London’s grandest stage, the 110-kilogram wrestler ruled supreme.
Each of his fights with greats like world champion Stanislaus Zbyszko, Frank Gotch, and Benjamin Roller on the path to the 1910 World Championship (Rustam-e-Zamana) title didn’t last more than a few minutes.
During his abroad trip, he competed in multiple tournaments and won, including victories over luminaries such as Switzerland’s Maurice Deriaz, Europe’s Johann Lemm, and America’s own Jesse Peterson (World Champion).
Retired in 1952 having Never Lost a Professional Match.
After a career spanning half a decade and culminating in his retirement at age 74, Gama was still undefeated. Even though his opponents challenged him more than once, he still won most of the fights with ease.
In their first match, Sultaniwala pushed Gama to the limit for two hours, making him one of the few opponents the World Champion had trouble beating for a while. Gama later acknowledged that the former Indian champion was the toughest opponent he had ever faced.
On his return from England, however, Gama defeated his opponent in a long tournament battle in Allahabad, winning the prestigious Rustam-e-Hind title for himself.
During the 1947 Partition, He Protected Hindus in Lahore.
When Gama moved to Lahore in early 1947, just before India’s independence and subsequent division, he not only gained respect on the mat but also saved the lives of Hindus residing on Mohni Road.
Gama had a strong connection to the Hindu majority neighbourhood of Mohni Road, and when riot tensions were high, he made a vow to sacrifice himself to protect the neighborhood’s residents.
When the unrest neared a boiling point, he led them to safety at the border and paid for a week’s worth of food for them.
Gama Pahalwan Origins and Early Life
The legendary wrestler was not actually known by the name “Gama Pahwalan.” On May 22, 1878, in the Jabbowal village of Amritsar, India, a man named Ghulam Mohammad Baksh entered the world.
He was from of a clan of wrestling-fanatic Muslim Kashmiris.
Gama Pehalwan’s Wife and Kids.
Gamba Pehlwan’s father, “Muhammad Aziz Baksh,” was also a wrestler. His brother was also a Muslim scholar and leader in Kashmir; he went by the moniker “Imam Babksh Pehlwan.”
Wazir Begum wasn’t Gama’s only wife; he had another. Overall, he was blessed with ten children, five sons and four daughters. His grandkid Kalsoom married Nawaz Sharif. Sairu Banu, another sister of Kalsoom, married Jhara Pehlwan.
Assistance From Loved Ones and a Head Start in a Wrestling Career
The father of Gama Pehlwan, Ghulam Muhammad Baksh Butt, was a wrestler who competed in the court of Maharaja Bhawani Singh of Datia.
His father Aziz Baksh had the vision to train Gama to be a wrestler, but he passed away before he could fulfil that desire. Maternal grandfather Noon Pehlwan took Ghulam Muhammad Baksh Butt, then 6, under his wing and taught him and his brother the art of wrestling. After this, Gama Pehlwan’s maternal uncle Ida Pehlwan taught both of them wrestling tactics.
The First Time People Called Gama “The Great”
Born into a family of wrestlers, it was inevitable that he, too, would develop an interest in the sport. He had been training in wrestling from a young age because it was another one of his many passions. At the age of 10, in the year 1988, he was discovered. There were hundreds of wrestlers competing in the strongman competition he was in Jodhpur for.
Honored Title: “Rustam-e-Hind”
Nearly everyone is aware that Dara Singh was honoured with the Rustam-e-Hind. However, before Dara Singh’s name was attached to this honour, it was given to someone known simply as “The Great Gama.”
The Great Gama’s” Normal Workout Schedule
He once set a record by performing 5,000 squats and 1,000 push-ups in a single day. No other wrestler could possibly have defeated him. All the wrestlers were taken aback by him.
In his father’s place, Gama Pehlwan took up wrestling for the Maharaja of Datia. During this time, he often put in over 12 hours of practise. He reportedly used to perform 3,000 pushups and 3,000 punishment meetings daily.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is Married to Gama’s Granddaughter.
Kulsoom Nawaz, granddaughter of Hafiz Butt and Gama, married Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in 1971 and served as first lady three times.
Bruce Lee and Prince Charles Both Think Highly of him.
Gama’s rigorous diet and training regimens earned him a reputation for toughness and physical prowess. Allegedly, he would perform 5,000 squats and 3,000 push-ups daily to stay in shape. Bruce Lee, an accomplished martial artist and Hollywood icon, found something familiar in Gama’s teaching methods and drew inspiration for some of his signature movements from him.
During his time in India, the Prince of Wales also recognised Gama for his bravery.
Raised a 1200 Kilogramme Stone
During a tournament in Sayajibaug in 1902, Gama, then in his twenties and weighing roughly 100 kg, performed the incredible feat of lifting a 1200 kilogramme boulder at the Baroda Museum.