Gama Pehlwan’s Journey to Wrestling Fame
Gama Pehlwan, popularly known as ‘The Great Gama’, was a beacon of Indian wrestling in the late 19th and early 20th century. Born in Amritsar, India in 1878, Gama Pehlwan attracted mass attention in his teens by holding his own against the much-experienced Indian champion, Raheem Baksh Sultaniwala. Despite the height difference, Gama’s unique blend of agility and strength saw him earn recognition and soon become the successor to Sultaniwala’s Rustam-e-Hind title.
Career Triumphs and Milestones
The wrestling marvel, known for his powerful and speedy tactics, made significant strides in his career. He went undefeated for 52 years, decimating rivals who barely lasted minutes against him. His noticeable dominance in local wrestling circles caught international attention, leading to his participation in international events. Gama’s impressive performance in London was a testament to his skill and hard work. He defeated world-renowned names such as Stanislaus Zbyszko, Frank Gotch, and Benjamin Roller, clinching the World Championship title in 1910.
The Great Gama was more than just a decorated wrestler. He was a symbol of resilience and physical prowess. Stories and anecdotes from his training regime continue to awe and inspire athletes globally. Famous for his commitment to endurance and strength training, Gama was reported to perform five thousand squats and three thousand pushups daily. His vigorous training routine caught the admiration of martial art expert and movie star Bruce Lee, who incorporated some of Gama’s moves into his workout regime.
Earning Respect Off the Mat
Gama Pehlwan’s influence stretched beyond the wrestling ring. He played a significant role in safeguarding Hindus in Lahore during the 1947 partition rights. Amidst the rising tensions of riots, Gama leveraged his popularity and strength to keep the rioters at bay. He later escorted the Hindu community to safety at the Indian border, bearing their living expenses for a week. This exemplified Gama’s dedication to peace and harmony, earning him respect beyond his wresting accolades.
Contribution to the Pakistani Political Landscape
In addition to his wrestling ventures and humanitarian acts, Gama also holds a place in the Pakistani political sphere. His granddaughter Kulsoom Nawaz (daughter of Hafiz Butt) was the first lady of Pakistan on three separate occasions, having married the country’s former PM, Nawaz Sharif, in 1971. This connection further established Gama Pehlwan’s influence in the South Asian region.
Milestone Moment: Lifting a 1200 kg Stone
One of Gama’s most remarkable feats occurred in 1902. At that time, Gama was in his 20s and weighed about 100 kilograms. Ahead of a competition in Baroda city, Gama demonstrated his immense strength by lifting a 1200 kilogram rock at the Baroda Museum in Sayajibaug, marking an indelible impression on all present. This outstanding achievement added yet another chapter in his illustrious career as a wrestler.
Recognition by Prince of Wales
The accolades and respect for Gama were not just confined to his home nation or the wrestling community. His strength and determination were acknowledged by the Prince of Wales during the latter’s visit to India. Such was the impact that Gama had made on the global sports stage during his active years. As we look back at his life and accomplishments, we are reminded of the legacy that he left behind.
Reviving the Legacy of “The Great Gama”
Remembering Gama Pehlwan’s legacy is not just important to keep the legend’s name alive but also to inspire the young generation, to instill the values of hard work, discipline, and self-belief. His spirit lives on, continuing to motivate budding wrestlers. The tech giant Google commemorated the Indian wrestling great on his 144th birth anniversary with a doodle, showcasing the legend’s immense popularity and continuing reverence.
The power behind Gama’s strength was not just physical but also mental. Despite his towering achievements, he was grounded, adhering to the principles of respect, humility, and gentleness. Tales of his sportsmanship and code of ethics continue to reverberate in the wrestling community, encouraging the wrestlers to play fair and respect their opponents.
Unwavering Dedication to Wrestling
Despite his age, Gama showed an uncompromising resolve to compete, finally retiring from the sport at age 74. During his lengthy career, he faced multiple challenges but never backed down. And even in his retirement, Gama’s prowess and invincible spirit remained a beacon of inspiration for unprecedented strength and dedication.
Gama’s wrestling career, filled with triumph and honor, was coupled with his philanthropy. His heroic stature laid a great foundation for Indian wrestling and sports. His energy, zeal, and commitment to the sport and fellow countrymen personalized him among the masses, especially Indians. Today, youngsters idolize him for his unmatchable wrestling career and noble deeds outside the mat.
Gama-Faced Challenges and Emerged Victorious
Life for Gama was not just about victories, though. He also faced formidable adversaries, one of them being Sultaniwala. Gama’s initial face-off with Sultaniwala ended in a draw, with Gama finding it challenging to overpower him. In fact, Gama admitted that Sultaniwala was the toughest opponent he ever faced. But, Gama’s relentless resolve and determination eventually led him to victory over his old adversary at a tournament in Allahabad, claiming the Rustam-e-Hind title. This was no small feat and underscored Gama’s indomitable spirit and determination to never back down, regardless of the opponent.
Legacy of a Champion
There is no denying that ‘The Great Gama’ was not just a wrestler but also an exceptional human being of admirable character and strength. He remained undefeated in his wrestling career, inspiring millions with his prodigious talents. By honoring his birth anniversary, Google substantiated his strong worldwide influence and contributions, which continue to inspire wrestlers and athletes all over the world.
As the years advance, the tale of Gama Pehlwan remains indelibly etched in the annals of wrestling history. Gama’s life was a testament to the belief that the human spirit is unconquerable, and despite any hurdles and challenges, man is capable of achieving greatness. As we explore his history, we find a man who used his fame and strength for the greater good, promoting peace and harmony in society. His fierce battles on the wrestling mat and his noble deeds off it continue to inspire and motivate future generations. Gama Pehlwan’s story is a melodious symphony of courage, determination, resilience that will forever carry a timeless relevance. Not only did he raise the bar for Indian wrestling, but his story continues to stand as a beacon of hope and determination in wrestling communities globally.