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Gama Pehlwan: Google Doodle celebrates Indian pehlwani wrestler The Great Gama’s 144th birthday

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Gama Pehlwan or The Great Gama Google Doodle

Google Doodle celebrates the 144th birthday of Indian pehlwani wrestler and strongman Gama Pehlwan — generally known as Rustam-e-Hind (Hindi-Urdu for Rustam of India) and by the ring name The Great Gama — who is viewed as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time — undefeated in a career spanning over 52 years — on May 22, 2022.

Who was Gama Pehlwan or “The Great Gama”?

Gama Pehlwan or The Great Gama
Gama Pehlwan or “The Great Gama”

Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt — later known as Gama Pehlwan or “The Great Gama” — was born on May 22, 1878, in Jabbowal Village in the Punjab Province of what was then known as British India into a wrestling family which was known to produce world-class wrestlers. He was an Indian pehlwani wrestler and strongman. In the mid-20th century, he was an undefeated wrestling champion of the world.

Traditional wrestling in North India began to initiate around the mid-1900s. Lower class and working class migrants would contend in royal gymnasiums and gain national recognition when rich competitions were won. During these competitions, spectators appreciated the wrestlers’ physiques and were inspired by their disciplined lifestyle.

Gama Pehlwan’s workout routine included 500 lunges and 500 pushups at just 10 years of age. In 1888, he contended in a lunge contest with more than 400 wrestlers from around the country and won. His prosperity at the competition acquired him popularity all through the royal states of India. It was only after he turned 15 that he got wrestling.

By 1910, individuals were reading Indian newspapers with headlines honoring Gama Pehlwan as a national hero and world champion. Gama is likewise viewed as a hero for saving the lives of numerous Hindus during the partition of India in 1947. He spent his other days until his death in 1960 in Lahore, which became a part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

However, Zbyszko became one of the few wrestlers to ever meet the Great Gama without going down in defeat; The two men were set to confront each other again on September 17, 1910. On that date, Zbyszko failed to appear and Gama was declared the winner by default.

Gama was awarded the award and the John Bull Belt. Getting this belt qualified Gama to be called Rustam-e-Zamana or World Champion yet not the lineal champion of the world as he hadn’t defeated Zbyszko in the ring.

During this tour, Gama Pehlwan defeated some of the most respected grapplers in the world, “Doc” Benjamin Roller of the United States, Maurice Deriaz of Switzerland, and Johann Lemm (the European Champion) of Switzerland, and Jesse Peterson (World Champion) from Sweden. In the match against Roller, Gama tossed “Doc” 13 times in the 15-minute match.

Gama Pehlwan currently issued a challenge to most of the individuals who claimed the World Champion’s Title, including Japanese Judo champion Taro Miyake, George Hackenschmidt of Russia, and Frank Gotch of the United States – each declined his encouragement to enter the ring to confront him.

At a certain point, to confront some sort of competition, Gama Pehlwan proposed to battle twenty English wrestlers, one after another. He reported that he would defeat every one of them or pay out prize money, but still, no one would take up his challenge.

Shortly after his return from England, Gama Pehlwan confronted Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala in Allahabad. This session ultimately finished the long battle between the two mainstays of Indian wrestling of that time for Gama and he came out on top for the championship of Rustam-e-Hind or the lineal Champion of India. Later in his life when gotten some information about who was his strongest rival, Gama answered, “Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala”.

In the wake of beating Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, Gama Pehlwan confronted Pandit Biddu, who was one of the best wrestlers in India at that time (1916), and beat him.

Gama Pehlwan procured many titles during his career, notably the Indian versions of the World Heavyweight Championship (1910) and the World Wrestling Championship (1927) where he was offered the title of “Tiger” after the competition.

Gama was even introduced to a silver mace by the Prince of Wales during his visit to India to honor the great wrestler. Gama’s legacy keeps on inspiring modern-day fighters. Indeed, even Bruce Lee is a known admirer and integrates aspects of Gama’s conditioning into his own training routine!

From the 1890s through 1910, Gama Pehlwan went on a streak of undefeated matches against India’s most prominent wrestlers, with just his match against the national champion finishing in a draw. Gama then developed his career internationally by challenging and defeating the best wrestlers in Britain, bringing about a match against world champion Stanislaus Zbyszko, which likewise finished in a draw.

Proceeding with his training, Gama Pehlwan eventually defeated both of these rivals in rematches, procuring himself the titles of Champion of India and World Champion. His career spanned numerous decades and more than 5,000 matches, finishing undefeated.

In any case, Gama Pehlwan was additionally a champion of the people outside of the ring. In 1947, British India became independent from Britain and parted to become independent territories of India and Pakistan, a period that saw a lot of civil unrest.

During the partition of India, the Great Gama saved the lives of numerous Hindus and afterward spent his other days until his death on May 23, 1960, in Lahore, which became a part of the recently made Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Kulsoom Nawaz, Pakistan’s first lady and wife of Nawaz Sharif who stayed the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was the granddaughter of The Great Gama.

The Great Gama Pehlwan Google Doodle

Gama Pehlwan was broadly viewed as one of the best wrestlers ever. Gama stayed undefeated all through his international matches and procured the name “The Great Gama.” Today’s Google Doodle — illustrated by guest artist Vrinda Zaveri — celebrates Gama Pehlwan’s achievements in the ring yet additionally the effect and representation he brought to Indian culture.

In the Google Doodle honoring the respected wrestler’s 144th birthday celebration, you can see Gama Pehlwan standing strong, surrounded by the letters “Google.” In his right hand, Gama is holding a silver mace, presented to him by the Prince of Wales.

Today, a doughnut-shaped exercise disc called Hasli weighing 100 kg, used by Gama Pehlwan for squats and pushups, is housed at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Museum in Patiala, India.

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