Gama Pehlwan born Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt (22 May 1878 – 23 May 1960), also known as Rustam-e-Hind or Rostam of Hindostan and The Great Gama, was a pehlwani wrestler and strongman in British India. During the early 20th century, he was the undefeated wrestling champion of India. He was born into a Kashmiri Muslim family of wrestlers in Jabbowal Village, Amritsar district, Punjab Province, British India (now Jabbowal, Kapurthala District, Punjab, India).
It was at the age of ten, in 1888, that he first came to the attention of the public, when he participated in a strongman contest held in Jodhpur, which included many grueling exercises such as squats. Over four hundred wrestlers participated in the contest, and Gama was among the last fifteen and was crowned the winner because of his young age the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Afterward, Gama was trained by the Maharaja of Datia.
The World Heavyweight Championship was awarded to Baksh on 15 October 1910 in the Punjab Province of British India. During the course of his career, he remained undefeated for more than 52 years, making him one of the greatest Indian wrestlers of all time. As a result of the partition of British India into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan on 23 May 1960, Gama migrated to Pakistan, where he died on 23 May 1960 in the city of Lahore.
Gama Pehlwan Bio/Wiki
The table below reveals concise information about Gama Pehlwan. It gives you the ability to read through the Indian wrestler’s profile as fast as possible.
|Birth Name||Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt|
|Nickname/ Popular Name||• Rustam-e-Hind|
• The Great Gama
|Age||82 Years (at the time of death)|
|Sun Sign/Zodiac Sign||Gemini|
|Birth Place||Jabbowal, Amritsar, Punjab, British India (present-day Kapurthala, Punjab, India)|
|Date of Birth||22 May 1878|
|Date of Death||23 May 1960|
|Death Place||Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan|
|Death Cause||After a chronic illness of heart and asthma|
|Residence||Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan (after partition)|
|Home Town||Jabbowal, Amritsar, Punjab, British India (present-day Kapurthala, Punjab, India)|
|Mother's Name||Name Not Known|
|Father's Name||Muhammad Aziz Baksh|
|Brother(s)||Imam Baksh Pahalwan|
Marital Status, Wife and Children
|Children||Daughter(s)- 4 (Names not available)|
Son(s)- 5 - Aslam Pahalwan (Names not available of other 4 sons.)
|Granddaughter(s)||• Kalsoom Nawaz|
• Saira Bano
|Educational Qualification||Not Available|
|Awards||International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame|
• Class of 2021
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
• Class of 2007
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
• Class of 2015
Height, Weight, and Figure Measurements
|Height (Approx.)||in centimeters- 172 cm|
in meters- 1.73 m
in feet inches- 5'8"
|Weight (Approx.)||in kilograms- 110 kg|
in pounds- 250 lbs
|Chest Size||46 inches|
|Biceps Size||22 inches|
|Waist Size||34 inches|
Extra Ordinary Features
|Race / Ethnicity||Kashmiri|
|Distinctive Features||Not Available|
|Dress Size||7 U.S.|
|Shoe Size||9 U.S.|
|Favorite Car||Not Available|
|Favorite Food||Fruits, Milk and Chicken|
|Favorite Pet Animal||Not Available|
|Favorite Cell Phone/Brand||Not Available|
Gama Pehlwan Family Tree
The late wrestler Gama Pehlwan was the son of Muhammad Aziz Baksh. Additionally, he has a brother named Imam Baksh Pehalwan. It has been reported that he was married twice. Wazeer Begum is his most well-known wife. He had five sons and four daughters after his marriage.
Kalsoom Nawaz, his daughter, is the wife of Nawaz Sharif, a Pakistani politician, and prime minister. Also, Kalsoom Nawaz’s sister, Saira Bano, is the wife of Jhara Pehalwan.
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Gama Pehlwan Wife
The famous Indian wrestler was married twice. The most recent known was Wazeer Begum and one other. In course of his marriage, he had nine children; four daughters and five sons.
Nawaz Sherif’s wife Kalsoom Nawaz is the granddaughter of the late wrestler. Jhara Pehalwan is married to Kalsoom’s sister, Saira Bano, who is also Gama Pehlwan’s granddaughter.
Gama Pehlwan Son
Aslam Pahalwan was the son of a famous Indian wrestler. He was a professional wrestler from Pakistan and the World Heavyweight Champion in professional wrestling. The legacy of his father is well carried on by him.
Gama Pehlwan Career
- In 1895, Gama challenged the Indian Wrestling Champion, middle-aged Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, another ethnic Kashmiri wrestler from Gujranwala, Punjab Province, Colonial India (now in Pakistan).
- Due to Raheem’s height of approximately 7 feet (2.1 m) and his impressive win-loss record, it was expected that he would easily defeat Gama, who measures 5-foot-8 inches (1.73 m).
- Raheem’s only disadvantage was his age, as he was much older than Gama and near the end of his career. Hours of fighting resulted in a draw at the end of the match.
- Gama’s career was transformed by his contest with Raheem. He was then considered to be the next contender for the title of Rustam-e-Hind, or the Indian Wrestling Championship.
- Gama remained defensive in the first bout but went on the offensive in the second bout. Although he suffered severe bleeding from his nose and ears, he was able to inflict a great deal of damage on Raheem Bakhsh.
- All Indian wrestlers except Raheem had been defeated by Gama by 1910.
- During this period, he focused his attention on the rest of the world. Gama sailed to England with his younger brother Imam Bakhsh to compete with the Western wrestlers, but he was unable to gain instant entry because of his shorter height.
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The London Tournament
- The challenge Gama issued in London was that he could throw any three wrestlers of any weight class in thirty minutes.
- However, this announcement was viewed as a bluff by the wrestlers and their wrestling promoter R. B. Benjamin. No one accepted the challenge for a long time.
- Gama presented a second challenge to certain heavyweight wrestlers in order to break the ice.
- Either he would defeat Stanislaus Zbyszko and Frank Gotch, or he would pay them the prize money and return home.
- Benjamin Roller was the first professional wrestler to accept the challenge.
- During the bout, Gama pinned Roller in 1 minute 40 seconds the first time, and in 9 minutes and 10 seconds the second time.
- As a result of his victory on day two, he was able to gain entry into the official tournament.
The Match Against Stanislaus Zbyszko
- The bout was scheduled for 10 September 1910 against world champion Stanislaus Zbyszko.
- At that time, Zbyszko was considered one of the best wrestlers in the world, and he confronted India’s feared Great Gama, an undefeated champion who had failed to lure Frank Gotch into a match.
- In the finals of the John Bull World Championships, Zbyszko faced the Great Gama on 10 September 1910.
- The match was worth £250 in prize money and the John Bull Belt was on the line. Zbyszko was taken down within a minute and remained in that position for the remaining 2 hours and 35 minutes of the match.
- Occasionally, Zbyszko got up, but he just sat back down in his previous position after a few moments.
- As a result of this defensive strategy, Zbyszko managed to wrestle Great Gama to a draw after nearly three hours of grappling, though Zbyszko’s lack of tenacity angered many of the fans.
- While Zbyszko was one of the few wrestlers to ever face the Great Gama without losing, the two men were scheduled to meet again on 17 September 1910.
- Zbyszko failed to appear on that date, and Gama was declared the winner by default. In addition to receiving the prize, he was also awarded the John Bull Belt.
- As a result of receiving this belt, Gama received the title Rustam-e-Zamana or World Champion, but not the lineal champion of the world, since he had not defeated Zbyszko in the ring.
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Matches Against American And European Champions
- Gama defeated some of the world’s leading grapplers during this tour, including “Doc” Benjamin Roller of the United States, Maurice Deriaz of Switzerland, Johann Lemm (the European Champion) from Switzerland, and Jesse Peterson (the World Champion) from Sweden.
- Gama threw “Doc” 13 times during the 15-minute match against Roller.
- In response, Gama issued a challenge to those who claimed to be World Champions, including Japanese Judo champion Taro Miyake, Russian George Hackenschmidt, and American Frank Gotch.
- Gama offered to fight twenty English wrestlers one after another at one point in order to face some type of competition.
- In spite of his announcement that he would defeat all of them or pay out prize money, no one was willing to take up his challenge.
A Final Encounter With Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala
Gama faced Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala in Allahabad shortly after returning from England. Gama won this bout in favor of the two pillars of Indian wrestling of that time, and he received the title of Rustam-e-Hind or the lineal champion of India.
When asked later in his life who was his most formidable opponent, Gama replied, “Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala”.
The Rematch With Zbyszko
- As a result of Gama’s victory over Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, he then faced Pandit Biddu, one of the best wrestlers in India at the time (1916), and defeated him as well.
- Gama received a silver mace from the Prince of Wales during a visit to India in 1922.
- The first opponent for Gama was announced in 1927 when he would face Zbyszko again.
- In January 1928, they met in Patiala. Upon entering the bout, Zbyszko was described as having a strong body and muscle structure, while Gama appeared to be much thinner than usual.
- Nevertheless, he dominated the former and won the bout within a minute, winning the Indian version of the lineal World Wrestling Championship. Zbyszko praised him after the match, referring to him as a “tiger”.
- He was now known as the “great wrestler” of India at the age of forty-eight.
- In February 1929, Gama defeated Jesse Petersen after defeating Zbyszko. Approximately one and a half minutes were devoted to the fight. Gama fought his last bout during his career in this match.
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The Final Years Of Gama Pehlwan And Death
- Gama moved to Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. In Lahore, Gama (a Muslim) saved hundreds of Hindus from mobs during the Hindu-Muslim riots that broke out at the time of partition.
- In spite of the fact that Gama did not retire until 1952, he failed to find any other opponents to challenge him.
- Other sources indicate that he wrestled until 1955. He trained his nephew Bholu Pahalwan, who held the Pakistani wrestling championship for almost two decades after he retired.
- The last days of his life were difficult; he had five sons and four daughters, all of whom died at an early age.
- Upon the death of Jalaluddin, Gama’s youngest son, in 1945 at the age of thirteen, he was heartbroken and lost the ability to speak for some time.
- In the aftermath of the partition, he migrated to Pakistan and tried his hand at a number of unsuccessful ventures, including a bus service in Karachi called the “Gama Transport Service”.
- The government provided Gama with land and a monthly pension, which covered his medical expenses until his death.
- A period of illness led to his death on 23 May 1960 in Lahore, Pakistan.
- Over five thousand matches were fought and won by Gama. It is well known that Bruce Lee was an avid follower of Gama’s training regimen. After reading articles about Gama and how he used his exercises in order to build his legendary strength for wrestling, Lee quickly incorporated them into his own training regimen.
- Lee used a variety of training routines, including “the cat stretch” and “the squat” (known as “baithak”, also known as the “deep-knee bend”).
- An exercise disc shaped like a doughnut, weighing 100 kilograms, used by him for squats and pushups, is currently on display at the National Institute of Sports Museum in Patiala, India.
- The search engine Google commemorated Gama’s 144th birthday with a Doodle on 22 May 2022. “Gama’s legacy continues to inspire modern-day fighters. In fact, Bruce Lee is a known admirer of Gama’s conditioning and incorporates aspects of it into his own training regimen.”
What Do You Think Of Gama Pehlwan Vs Dara Singh In A Comparison And Wrestling Match?
There are two of India’s most famous wrestlers, Dara Singh and Gama (Ghulam Box), from distinct periods in history. However, if these two wrestlers were to face off, who would win?
Dara Singh was born in 1928 and passed away in Lahore this year, while Gama was born in 1880 and passed away in 1964. There is a common thread between wrestlers from the two periods: both believed in Indian pehalwani and Kushti.
Compared To Gama, A World Champion From Another Era, How Does Dara Singh Compare?
Dara was a Sikh and Gama was a Muslim, but both came from Punjab and were members of the Martial clan. Gama was fortunate to be sponsored by the Maharaja of Patiala, who cared for the wrestler. When Dara arrived in a new era with money, he ventured into the film industry, where he gained a great deal more wealth.
As a result of Gama’s victory over Stanley Zbyszko, he was crowned world champion and given the title Rustom-e-Zamana, which means world champion in Urdu. It is difficult to forget Gama’s 1:40 second pin of American champion Benjamin Roller. In another fight, he pinned him in nine minutes flat. Dara also had his share of victories.
Gama, who weighed approximately 100 kilograms and was in his early twenties, also lifted a boulder weighing 1210 kilograms at the Baroda Museum in Sayajibaug ahead of the competition in the city in 1902.
He defeated both King Kong and Tarlok Singh. Despite the fact that both of these wrestlers are wrestling legends of their eras, today’s youth are not familiar with Gama. It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to pin the world champion Zbyszko to the mat in 42 seconds. Stories such as these are the basis for legends.
Comparison Of Dara And Pehlwan Gama
Dara is better known for his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, whereas Gama wrestled in an era when sports were less prominent. However, he achieved enough to be remembered for a long time to come. The fact that India has produced two outstanding wrestlers who have brought honor to the country is a source of pride for me.
Gama was brought to Pakistan as a result of the partition of India. We may enjoy his exploits as Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala’s protege, but that is part of the game. Give him some credit as well.
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Facts About Gama Pehlwan
- In Jabbowal village, Amritsar, he was born into an ethnic Kashmiri family of wrestlers.
- It was well known that his family produced world-class wrestlers.
- Gama’s father, Muhammad Aziz Baksh, who was also a prominent wrestler, passed away when he was six years old.
- It was his maternal grandfather Nun Pahalwan, a wrestler, who took care of Gama after his father’s death, and after Nun Pahalwan’s death, it was his uncle Ida, another wrestler, who gave Gama his first wrestling instruction.
- At the age of 10, Gama was first noticed when he participated in a strongman competition held in Jodhpur in 1888. Since Gama was among the last 15 contestants, the Maharaja of Jodhpur decided to honor him as the winner due to his young age. As a result, the Maharaja of Datia instructed him in martial arts.
- Gama used to grapple with 40 of his fellow wrestlers in the court during his daily training. A typical day for Gama would consist of 5000 Baithaks (squats) and 3000 Dands (pushups).
- Several sources state that his daily diet included two gallons (7.5 liters) of milk, six desi chickens, and more than a pound of crushed almond paste mixed into a tonic drink.
- According to another source, while attending a wrestling competition in the then-Baroda state, he lifted a stone weighing over 1,200 kilograms. Currently, the stone is housed in the Baroda Museum.
- At the age of 17, Gama challenged Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala (the Indian Wrestling Champion at the time), an ethnic Kashmiri wrestler from Gujranwala, now in Punjab, Pakistan. Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala was a middle-aged man who stood almost seven feet tall and had an impressive record. After several hours of fighting, the bout ended in a draw.
- In Gama’s career, the bout with Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala marked a turning point.
- In 1910, Gama defeated all of the prominent Indian wrestlers, with the exception of Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala.
- As a result of his domestic success, Gama began to concentrate on the rest of the world.
- Gama sailed to England with his younger brother Imam Bakhsh in order to compete against the Western Wrestlers. As a result of his short stature, he was not able to gain immediate admission.
- His challenge in London was that he could throw any three wrestlers of any weight class in 30 minutes, but no one turned him down as they viewed this as a bluff.
- In addition, Gama specifically challenged Stanislaus Zbyszko and Frank Gotch to either participate or give away the prize money.
- The first wrestler to accept Gama’s challenge was Benjamin Roller. It took Gama 1 minute 40 seconds to pin him the first time, and 9 minutes and 10 seconds to pin him the second time. After defeating 12 wrestlers the next day, Gama was admitted to the official tournament.
- Gama faced Stanislaus Zbyszko in the finals of the John Bull World Championships in London on 10 September 1910. This match was worth £250 (₹22000) in prize money. Zbyszko and Gama fought for nearly three hours before Zbyszko won the match.
- The following time, when Zbyszko and Gama were scheduled to face off, Zbyszko failed to appear, and Gama was declared the winner.
- Gama defeated some of the most respected grapplers in the world during his tour to Western countries. These included Maurice Deriaz of France, Benjamin Roller of the United States, Jesse Peterson of Sweden, and Johann Lemm of Switzerland.
- During the 15-minute match with Benjamin Roller, Gama threw him 13 times.
- As a result of Gama’s victory over some of the world’s most prominent grapplers, he issued a challenge to the remaining World Champions, including George Hackenschmidt of Russia, Japanese Judo champion Taro Miyake, and Frank Gotch of the United States. Nevertheless, each of them declined his invitation.
- Gama once offered to fight 20 English wrestlers back-to-back, but no one took him up on the offer.
- When Gama returned to India from England, he faced Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala in Allahabad. Ultimately, Gama emerged as the victor and was awarded the title of “Rustam-e-Hind.”
- Upon being asked about his strongest opponent, Gama replied, “Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala.”.
- Pandit Biddu, another of India’s best wrestlers, was defeated by Gama in 1916.
- Gama received a silver mace from the Prince of Wales during his visit to India in 1922.
- Gama had no opponents until 1927. Nevertheless, shortly thereafter, it was announced that Gama and Zbyszko would face off again. Gama won the Indian version of the World Wrestling Championship in January 1928 after defeating Zbyszko within a minute. As a result of the bout, Zbyszko referred to Gama as a “tiger.”
- The last fight Gama fought during his career was against Jesse Petersen in February 1929. Gama emerged as the victor after a fight lasting only one and a half minutes.
- In the 1940s, Gama defeated all the fighters of the Nizam of Hyderabad at the invitation of the Nizam. A wrestler never defeated in his life, Balram Heeraman Singh Yadav, was sent to fight him by the Nizam. Gama was unable to defeat him after a long battle, and eventually, neither wrestler was victorious.
- As Gama neared the end of his life, he suffered from a chronic illness and struggled to pay for his treatment. In an effort to assist him, G. D. Birla, an industrialist, and wrestling enthusiast donated $2,000 and provided a monthly pension of $300. Until his death, the Government of Pakistan also supported his medical expenses.
- There is a 95 kg doughnut-shaped exercise disc on display at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Museum in Patiala, which Gama used to perform squats.
- The reports indicate that Bruce Lee was an avid follower of Gama’s training regimen.
- The Google search engine’s Doodle artwork celebrated Gama Pehalwan’s achievements on 22 May 2022.
At the age of 22, the Great Ghulam Mohammad, also known as Gama Pehlwan, lifted this stone weighing 1,200kg to his chest and walked around over a fair distance. Throughout his life, he remained undefeated and is widely regarded as the greatest wrestler ever born.
On 10 September 1910, Gama faced Stanislaus Zbyszko in the final of the John Bull World Championships in London. The prize money for the match was £250 (₹22000). Zabieszko defeated The Great Gama to a draw after nearly three hours of grappling.
According to sources, he had died due to a long-time illness of Heart disease.
Gama consumed a very nutritious diet. Each day, he consumed 7.5 liters of milk. To drink, he used to consume a pound and a half of crushed almonds blended with fruit juices. It was important to him to have a strong digestion and metabolism.
An Appreciation Note For Your Consideration
Thank you for reading this engaging article about the life journey of the Indian wrestler. Hopefully, Gama Pehlwan’s biography has made you believe that patience and persistence can overcome anything.
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