Ghulam Mohammad Baksh - Indian Wrestling Owes A Lot To The Great Gama

Ghulam Mohammad Baksh was born in Amritsar in 1878. His father was the famous wrestler, Mohammad Aziz Baksh. Ghulam Baksh was only five when his father passed away. Ghulam Baksh along with his younger brother, Imam Baksh, was brought up by their maternal grandfather, Amir Baksh Noon. Wrestling has been a famous sport in the sub continent since several thousand years. In the ancient ages, wrestling was taught for self defence and battle.

Ghulam Baksh was first noticed when he was ten years old and he entered a competition meant only for strong men. That competition involved many strenuous exercises including the tough squats. The competition was held in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It was attended by more than four hundred wrestlers and young Ghulam Baksh went on to the last stage of fifteen qualifying wrestlers. Without any hesitation, the Maharaja of Jodhpur announced Ghulam Baksh as the winner, justifying his excellent display of stamina and grit among a lot of so many matured wrestlers. He was given the nickname of `Gama’ and henceforth came to be regarded as the `Great Gama Pehelwan’.

Since then, Maharaja Bhawani Singh of Datia in Madhya Pradesh took Gama Pehelwan and his brother Imam Baksh under his care and patronage. Gama Pehelwan was only twenty eight when he challenged the wrestling Champion of India, Raheem Baksh Sultani Wala. It was the turning point of Gama Pehelwan’s career. He beat Sultani Wala and was awarded the Championship of India.

The John Bull Magazine organized a wrestling tournament in England in 1910. Gama Pehelwan sailed for England and took part in that tournament on 15th October 1910. He wrestled the famous American wrestler Benjamin Roller and subsequently the European Champion, Stanislaus Zbyszko and came out triumphant, winning the John Bull Belt.

Later in 1916, Raheem Baksh Sultani Wala and Pandit Biddu challenged him for the wrestling title and he beat both of them to earn the title of `Rustam-e-Hind’. In the year 1922, the Prince of Wales presented Gama Pehelwan with a silver mace during one of his visits to India. Gama had subsequent victories against Stanislaus Zbyszko in 1927 and Jesse Petersen in 1929. He fought off all challengers till the mid nineteen forties and created a condition for any challenger that if they wanted to wrestle with him; they had to defeat his brother Imam Baksh first. He retired in 1955.

 Gama Pehelwan is the only wrestler in history who has remained unbeaten in his entire life. He brought the conventional Indian wrestling style to international sports. He was friendly in nature and paid much importance to self respect. Gama Pehelwan was winner of over two hundred bouts in his life. As he remained undefeated till his death, many people acknowledge Gama as the greatest wrestler of all times. In his last years, he moved from India and settled down in Lahore, Pakistan with relations from his maternal side. He died there on 21st May 1960.

A doughnut shaped exercise disc of his weighing ninety five kilograms that he used for squats is kept as a memento at the National Institute of Sports Museum in Patiala. Gama Pehelwan has inspired the concept and design of the character Darun Mister in the Street Fighter EX videogame series. The animated character has a strong physical resemblance to him. The sport of Indian wrestling owes a lot to the Great Gama.

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Tahseen Nakavi Juror

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Keywords :
Gama Pehelwan , Sports , Wrestling


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