Gama is a title given to individuals who have been successful in wrestling. The term originates from the Persian word “gami” which means “tamer.” It is believed that the period was given out to wrestlers at the time of the Mughal Empire Akbar I. Akbar gave Gama, which means “victorious.” In Urdu, there are two words for a wrestler. One is ‘pehalwan,’ who wrestles professionally, and his opponents are usually kept below him for wrestling. The other word is ‘gama,’ who wrestles with becoming champions. Therefore, Gama pehalwan means the most outstanding wrestler. The first name to appear in mind when we talk about wrestling is Gama pehalwan, the greatest of all Ghulam Mohammad Baksh. He was the great gama pehalwan who was the champion of India and earned the title “Champion of Champions.” He was born in 1878 in Amritsar, Punjab. Ghulam Mohd Baksh benefited from an excellent physical education and became a wrestler. There is much more about him; this article will give you a glimpse into his journey and success.
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Quick Info About Of Gama Pehalwan
|Gama Pehalwan Official Name||Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt|
|Also known as||Rustam-e-hind, Rustam-e-Zamana, The great Gama pehalwan|
|Ring name||Gama pehalwan|
|Gama Pehalwan Age||82 years (At the time of death)|
Physical Stats Of Gama Pehalwan
|Gama Pehalwan Height||5 feet 8 inches|
|Gama Pehalwan Weight||110-112 Kg|
|Gama Pehalwan Body Measurements||46 x 34 x 22|
|Gama Pehalwan Hair Color||Black|
|Gama Pehalwan Eye color||Black|
Personal Life Of Gama Pehalwan
|Birth date Gama Pehalwan||22/05/1878|
|Gama Pehalwan Birthplace||Amritsar, Punjab|
|Gama Pehalwan Death date||23/05/1960|
|Gama Pehalwan Place of death||Lahore, Pakistan|
|Gama Pehalwan Cause of death||Asthma + heart disease|
|Hometown||Jabbowal village, Amritsar, Punjab|
|Gama Pehalwan Father||Muhammad Aziz Baksh|
|Gama Pehalwan Mother||Unknown|
|Gama Pehalwan Brother||Imam Baksh pehalwan|
|Gama Pehalwan Wife||Wazir Begum|
|Gama Pehalwan Grand Daughter||Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif|
|Gama Pehalwan Children||9 (4 girls & 5 boys)|
|Gama Pehalwan Religion||Islam|
Unknown Facts about Gama Pehalwan
- Ghulam Mohammad Baksh was one of the best wrestlers, and he was awarded the “Gama” title by King George V in recognition of his wrestling skills.
- He also won the British Empire Games gold medal for wrestling in 1924 in London, England.
- As a wrestler, Ghulam Mohammad Baksh had a good physique and a robust immune system. He was known as a tall and strong wrestler who could resist any weather.
- He was also interested in poetry and literature. In addition, he enjoyed playing polo and golf very much.
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At 6, he lost his father, who was also one of the best wrestlers in India and abroad. He grew up under the guidance of his maternal grandfather Nun Pehalwan. He was given his first training by his uncle, who was a wrestler. In 1888, he participated in a strongman competition in Jodhpur, where the Maharaja of Jodhpur recognized him. He was named the winner in this championship even after being in the last 15 because of his wrestling skills and passion by the Maharaja. Later, Maharaja of Datiya trained him to be the best. In 1889, he participated in a massive tournament and won the championship. He also went to Iran on behalf of Maharaja Bhupal Singh of Patiala and defeated all the Iranian wrestlers who were much more significant than him.
In 1892, he went to compete in Hyderabad, after which he decided that instead of going to England, India was best suited for wrestling near God and took refuge at a Hindu temple near Gurdaspur. He participated in several tournaments in Punjab, Delhi, and Bengal. In 1901, he defeated all wrestlers from the pehalwan family & was declared champion at Lahore. Later, he moved to Srinagar, where he stayed at Patiala and did not participate in any events. He met Maharaja of Gwalior at this point and was given the title of “Chhachh Mardan Singh” by him.
The Rise of Gama pehalwan
In 1905, he again went to Gwalior and later settled at the house of Maharaja Bhupal Singh in Patiala. In this meeting, Maharaja Bhupal Singh decided to train him, after which he began training on all the techniques taught by his uncle and grandfather, pehalwan. In 1908, he received an identity card from the Punjab government with his monogrammed name as ” pehalwan. ” In 1911, he defeated all top wrestlers at Srinagar and won a prize of Rs. 1000/- after which Maharaja of Kashmir presented him a sword and asked him to participate in a big tournament at Pune. He later went to Bombay, where he met some of his fans and posed for photographs with them.
In 1924, he defeated all the wrestlers, including his son, Gama Singh Jr., in a championship organized by Mohammed Abdul Aziz in Bombay. In the same tournament, he knocked out fan-favourite “Gama pehalwan,” who had injured his arm in his previous bout and was knocked unconscious for over 15 minutes. In this same year, he was given the title of ” pehalwan -e-Gama” by Maharaja of Patiala. In 1925–26, he traveled to Bombay and Karachi to represent the Maharaja of Patiala for all major championships. He defeated many famous wrestlers, and he brought all the titles except for the title of champion. In this tournament, Gama Singh Sr., also known as ” pehalwan,” lived up to his name and easily defeated every wrestler.
In 1927, he defeated his son Gama Singh Jr. again in Bombay and won Rs. 500/-. In 1932–33, he competed against many famous wrestlers in a championship at Lahore, where he trounced them.
He also went to Bombay this year as the representative of Maharaja of Patiala and won every match without difficulty and defeated his son Gama Singh Jr. again in the same tournament. In later years, his physical condition deteriorated, but this did not stop him from defeating wrestlers of all other academies.
Gamma didn’t face any rivals until 1927. But soon after, it was revealed that Gama and Zbieszko would square off once more. Gama won the Indian version of the World Wrestling Championship in January 1928 in Patiala after defeating Zabisco in under a minute. Zabieszko referred to Gama as a “tiger” after the fight.
In 1934–35, Gama Singh Sr. travelled to England with his son Gama Singh Jr., after which they fought many matches in London and Manchester. The best among these matches is their bout against the Shikari brothers at Aldershot. This match was held in the year 1935, and it lasted for over 3 hours.
Gama Singh pehalwan is also credited with being the first person to make wrestling a trendy sport and appear on film. The first film featuring Gama Singh was “The Great Gama pehalwan, “where he battled with well-known wrestler Chota Singh in front of 200,000 people at Rangoon Zoo on 12 March 1931.
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Gama Pehalwan Awards: Rustam-e-Hind
Most people know that Dara Singh received the “Rustam-e-Hind” award. However, a lot of people are unaware that “The Great Gama” was the one who gave his name before Dara Singh to this famous award.
30 Minutes Challenge: The Great Gama
Gama had to go to Wales and find a different way to get his education. There, he met Welsh wrestler Fred Beeton who wrestled similarly and taught him everything he knew in return for Baksh’s help with the Welsh language.
Gama then met Henry Irslinger, one of Europe’s toughest wrestlers, and challenged him to a bout-winner takes all wrestling match. Gama won, but Irslinger refused the young man a place on his gym staff because, under English law, Gama was too small (he stood at 4’11”).
To combat this, he challenged the best wrestlers to throw any three wrestlers of any weight class in 30 minutes. However, no one accepted his challenge since they thought it was a scam. Gama also challenged Frank Gotch and Stanislaus Zbieszko to either come forward or forfeit the award money. The first person to accept Gama’s challenge was American wrestler Benjamin Roller. Gamma successfully pins the opponent in 1 minute, 40 seconds, and 9 minutes and 10 seconds, respectively. Gama won over 12 wrestlers the following day to qualify for the official competition.
To succeed, Gama went back to India and won the All-India Championship. His second daughter Kasturi was born, and Gama had another son named Gurcharan on 17 August 1924. On 10 November 1926, a fellow wrestler presented him with a trophy in honour of his achievements. Gama then went on to win the All-India championship again in 1927. Gama’s younger brother, Imam Baksh, also started to train and gain success in wrestling.
Some wrestlers Muhammed Ali tried to ‘study’ after he made his way out of his trainers’ stable were a bit tough. He then decided to go and train with Gama, one of India’s greatest grapplers who had wrestled a tough match against Ali’s trainer Hamed (Ali’s only loss). Thus, he trained with his brother, who had defeated Ali’s trainer, Hamed, several times.
According to legend, The Great Gama had severe financial hardship in his latter days. Even Gama struggled to pay for his medication because he had a chronic ailment. G.D. Birla donated him a pension of Rs. 2000 and Rs. 300. The Pakistan government paid for his medical throughout, as he was a legendary player in history. After 1947, Gama mentored his nephew Bholu Pehalwan, who ran the Pakistani Wrestling Championships for almost 20 years after he retired.
Did you know Bruce Lee was one of the greatest fans of Gama pehalwan and has been an inspiration for thousands of wrestlers? To pay him respect, an 85 kg exercise disc (doughnut-shaped) was kept in the National Institute of sports museum in Patiala. Also, recently in 2022, the Google engine celebrated the victories of Gama pehalwan and paid him respect.