The Great Gama

Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt (22 May 1878 – 23 May 1960), better known by the ring name The Great Gama, was an Indian wrestler who then moved to Lahore, Pakistan post-partition where he lived for the rest of his days.[3][4][5]

Born in Amritsar village Jabbowal, then in the Punjab Province of British India, in 1878, he was awarded the Indian version of the World Heavyweight Championship on 15 October 1910, and went on to defeat grappling champions across the world. Undefeated in a career spanning more than 52 years, he is considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.[6]

Gama Pehalwan
Gama1916
Birth nameGhulam Mohammad Baksh Butt
Born22 May 1878
Jabbowal, Amritsar District, Lahore Division, Punjab Province, British Indian Empire
(present-day Punjab, India)
Died23 May 1960 (aged 82)[1]
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
FamilyImam Baksh Pahalwan (brother)
Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif (granddaughter)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Gama Pahalwan
Billed height5 ft 8 in (173 cm)[2]
Billed weight240 lb (110 kg)[2]

Early life

Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt was born in the Amritsar district village of Jabbowal into a Kashmiri Muslim family of wrestlers in the Punjab region of Northern India.[2][7][8] He came from a wrestling family which was known to produce world-class wrestlers. Gama had two wives: one in Punjab and the other in Baroda, Gujarat, India.

After the death of his father Muhammad Aziz Baksh when he was six, Gama was put under the care of his maternal grandfather Nun Pahalwan. Following his death, Gama was taken care of by his uncle Ida, another wrestler, who also began training Gama in wrestling. He was first noticed at the age of ten, in 1888, when he entered a strongman competition held in Jodhpur, which included many grueling exercises such as squats. The contest was attended by more than four hundred wrestlers and Gama was among the last fifteen and was named the winner by the Maharaja of Jodhpur due to his young age.[9] Gama was subsequently taken into training by the Maharaja of Datia.[10]

Training and diet

Squat, baithak, Hindu squat, possibly 'The Great Gamma'
Gama performing a baithak
Dand, Dund, Hindu push-up
Gama performing a Dand

Gama's daily training consisted of grappling with forty of his fellow wrestlers in the akhada (court). He did a minimum of five thousand baithaks (Hindu squats) (avg. speed 100-200 squats per minute) and three thousand dands (Hindu pushups) (avg. speed 50-100 pushups per minute) in a day and even sometimes more within 30 to 45 minutes each by wearing a doughnut-shaped wrestling apparatus called a Hasli of 1 Quintal.[11] Gama's diet included

  1. 10 litres of milk per day mixed with
  2. 1.5 pounds of crushed almond paste
  3. Half litre of ghee
  4. Six pounds of butter
  5. Three buckets of seasonal fruits
  6. Two desi muttons
  7. Six desi chickens
  8. along with fruit juices

and other ingredients to promote his digestive system and muscular health.[11]

Career

First encounter with Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala

Fame came to Gama in 1895, at the age of 17 when he challenged then-Indian Wrestling Champion, middle-aged Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, another ethnic Kashmiri wrestler from Gujranwala, now in Punjab, Pakistan. At about 7 feet tall, with a very impressive win-loss record, Raheem was expected to easily defeat the 5'7" Gama. Raheem's only drawback was his age as he was much older than Gama, and near the end of his career. The bout continued for hours and eventually ended in a draw. The contest with Raheem was the turning point in Gama's career. After that, he was looked upon as the next contender for the Indian Wrestling Championship. In the first bout Gama remained defensive, but in the second bout, Gama went on the offensive. Despite severe bleeding from his nose and ears, he managed to deal out a great deal of damage to Raheem Bakhsh.

By 1910, Gama had defeated all the prominent Indian wrestlers who faced him except the champion, Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala. At this time, he focused his attention on the rest of the world. Accompanied by his younger brother Imam Bakhsh, Gama sailed to England to compete with the Western wrestlers but could not gain instant entry, because of his lower height.[12]

Tournament in London

In London, Gama issued a challenge that he could throw any three wrestlers in thirty minutes of any weight class. This announcement however was seen as a bluff by the wrestlers and their wrestling promoter R. B. Benjamin.[4] For a long time no one came forward to accept the challenge. To break the ice, Gama presented another challenge to specific heavy weight wrestlers. He challenged Stanislaus Zbyszko and Frank Gotch, either he would beat them or pay them the prize money and go home. The first professional wrestler to take his challenge was the American Benjamin Roller. In the bout, Gama pinned Roller in 1 minute 40 seconds the first time, and in 9 minutes 10 seconds the other. On the second day, he defeated 12 wrestlers and thus gained entry to official tournament.[12]

Match with Stanislaus Zbyszko

He was pitted against world champion Stanislaus Zbyszko[12] and the date of bout was set as 10 September 1910. Zbyszko was then regarded among the premier wrestlers in the world; and he would then take on the mammoth challenge of India's feared Great Gama, an undefeated champion who had been unsuccessful in his attempts to lure Frank Gotch into a match. And so, on September 10, 1910, Zbyszko faced the Great Gama in the finals of the John Bull World Championships in London. The match was £250 in prize money and the John Bull Belt. Within a minute, Zbyszko was taken down and remained in that position for the remaining 2 hours and 35 minutes of the match. There were a few brief moments when Zbyszko would get up, but he just ended back down in his previous position. Crafting a defensive strategy of hugging the mat in order to nullify Great Gama’s greatest strengths, Zbyszko wrestled the Indian legend to a draw after nearly three hours of grappling, though Zbyszko’s lack of tenacity angered many of the fans in attendance. Nevertheless, Zbyszko still became one of the few wrestlers to ever meet the Great Gama without going down in defeat; The two men were set to face each other again on September 17, 1910. On that date, Zbyszko failed to show up and Gama was announced the winner by default. He was awarded the prize and the John Bull Belt. Receiving this belt entitled Gama to be called Rustam-e-Zamana or World Champion.

Bouts against American and European champions

During this tour Gama defeated some of the most respected grapplers in the world, "Doc" Benjamin Roller of the United States, Maurice Deriaz of Switzerland, Johann Lemm (the European Champion) of Switzerland, and Jesse Peterson (World Champion) from Sweden. In the match against Roller, Gama threw "Doc" 13 times in the 15-minute match. Gama now issued a challenge to the rest of those who laid claim to 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 invitation to enter the ring to face him. At one point, to face some type of competition, Gama offered to fight twenty English wrestlers, one after another. He announced that he would defeat all of them or pay out prize money, but still no one would take up his challenge.

Final encounter with Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala

Shortly after his return from England, Gama faced Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala in Allahabad. This bout eventually ended the long struggle between the two pillars of Indian wrestling of that time in favour of Gama and he won the title of Rustam-e-Hind or Champion of India. Later in his life when asked about who was his strongest opponent, Gama replied, "Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala".

Rematch with Zbyszko

After beating Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, Gama faced Pandit Biddu, who was one of the best wrestlers in India of that time (1916), and beat him.

In 1922, during a visit to India, the Prince of Wales presented Gama with a silver mace.

Gama did not have any opponents until 1927, when it was announced that Gama and Zbyszko would face each other again. They met in Patiala in January 1928.[13] Entering the bout, Zbyszko "showed a strong build of body and muscle" and Gama, it was reported "looked much thinner than usual". However, he managed to overpower the former easily and won the bout inside a minute, winning the Indian version of the World Wrestling Championship. Following the bout, Zbyszko praised him, calling him a "tiger".[14]

At forty-eight years old he was now known as the "Great wrestler" of India.[4]

Fight with Balram Heeraman Singh Yadav

After defeating Zbyszko, Gama beat Jesse Petersen in February 1929. The bout lasted only one and a half minutes. This was the last bout that Gama fought during his career. In the 1940s he was invited by the Nizam of Hyderabad and defeated all his fighters. The Nizam then sent him to face the wrestler Balram Heeraman Singh Yadav, who was never defeated in his life. The fight was very long. Gama was unable to defeat Heeraman and eventually neither wrestler won. Heeraman was one of the toughest wrestlers for Gama to face.

After the independence and partition of India in 1947, Gama moved to Pakistan. During the Hindu-Muslim riots that broke out at the time of partition, the Muslim Gama saved hundreds of Hindus from mobs in Lahore.[7][8] Although Gama did not retire until 1952, he failed to find any other opponents. After his retirement, he trained his nephew Bholu Pahalwan, who held the Pakistani wrestling championship for almost 20 years.

Death

The Great Gama died in Lahore, Pakistan on 23 May 1960 after a period of illness. He was given land and monthly pension by the government and supported his medical expenses until his death.

Legacy

Bruce Lee was an avid follower of Gama's training routine. Lee read articles about Gama and how he employed his exercises to build his legendary strength for wrestling, and Lee quickly incorporated them into his own routine. The training routines Lee used included "the cat stretch", and "the squat" (known as "baithak", and also known as the "deep-knee bend.").[15]

Today, a doughnut-shaped exercise disc called Hasli weighing 100 kg, used by him for squats and pushups, is housed at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Museum at Patiala, India.[16]

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ Nidaay-e-Millat, Urdu Weekly Magazine 21–27 July 2016. Lahore
  2. ^ a b c Lentz III, Harris M. (2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 118. ISBN 9780786417544. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  3. ^ https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/05/the-great-gama-and-lahore/
  4. ^ a b c Banerjee, Sarnath (10 March 2012). "Gamanamah: The story of a strongman". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  5. ^ Hornbaker, Tim (2017). Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 9781613218754. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  6. ^ "The culture and crisis of kushti". The Hindu. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Here's The Story Of Gama 'The Undefeated' Pehalwan And How He Saved Hindus During 1947 Riots". India Times. 16 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b "The Great Gama and Lahore". Pakistan Today. 5 January 2018.
  9. ^ Sen, Ronojoy (2015). Nation at Play: A History of Sport in India. Columbia University Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780231539937. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  10. ^ Prasher, Shantanu. "The Great Gama: Story Of The Greatest 'Buffer' To Ever Walk On Indian Soil". www.mensxp.com. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  11. ^ a b "The Great Gama -". Legendary Strength. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Alter, Joseph S. (1992). The wrestler's body identity and ideology in North India. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780520912175.
  13. ^ "World Wrestling Championship: Indian's Victory Over Pole". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertise. 14 February 1928. p. 4. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  14. ^ "World Wrestling Championship: Gama Beats Zbyszko". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 3 March 1928. p. 6. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  15. ^ Little, John, Bruce Lee – The Art of Expressing The Human Body (Tuttle Publishing, 1998), p. 58
  16. ^ A rare museum The Tribune, Published 24 November 2001, Retrieved 2 July 2016
  17. ^ Johnson, Steve (July 14, 2007). "Emotions run high at Tragos/Thesz induction". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  18. ^ Oliver, Greg (26 November 2014). "Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2 July 2016.

External links

Ankathattu

Ankathattu (Malayalam: അങ്ഗഥട്ടു) is a Malayalam word identifying a four to six feet high platform constructed temporarily in Kerala, India, for the purpose of fighting duels. In Malayalam, ankam means war. The platform was constructed according to tradition and in the centre of a ground from where all people could watch the fight. This place altogether is called Anka-Kalari.In earlier centuries in Kerala, if there was a quarrel between the local rulers, it was resolved by fixing an ankam, usually a duel. Each ruler would be represented by an ankachekavar. The ruler represented by the winning ankachekavar was considered the winner.

Bagh nakh

The bagh nakh, vagh nakh, or vagh nakhya (Marathi: वाघनख / वाघनख्या, Hindi: बाघ नख, Urdu: باگھ نکھ‎, lit. tiger claw) is a claw-like weapon, originating from the Indian subcontinent, designed to fit over the knuckles or be concealed under and against the palm. It consists of four or five curved blades affixed to a crossbar or glove, and is designed to slash through skin and muscle. It is believed to have been inspired by the armament of big cats, and the term bagh nakh itself means tiger's claw in Hindi.

Bhartiya Kushti Patrika

Bhartiya Kushti Patrika (Hindi: भारतीय कुश्ती पत्रिका) is an Indian monthly sports magazine focusing on Indian-style wrestling, Kushti. It was established by Ratan Patodi in early 1962. The magazine's main goal is to preserve the literature of Indian Wrestling. Wrestling has been in existence in India since ancient times. This ancient tradition has a significant place in Hindu mythology as Lord Hanuman and Lord Krishna loved to wrestle (कुश्ती).

Patodi has made extreme efforts to compile every possible piece on wrestling in the magazine. This magazine offers information today of classic wrestlers and their achievements such as The Great Gama.

Gada (mace)

The gada (Sanskrit: गदा gadā, Tamil: gadai, Malay: gedak, Old Tagalog: batuta) is a club or blunt mace from the Indian subcontinent. Made either of wood or metal, it consists essentially of a spherical head mounted on a shaft, with a spike on the top. Outside India, the gada was also adopted in Southeast Asia, where it is still used in silat.

The gada is the main weapon of the Hindu God Hanuman. Known for his strength, Hanuman is traditionally worshipped by wrestlers in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Vishnu also carries a gada named Kaumodaki in one of his four hands. In the Mahabharata epic, the fighters Bhima, Duryodhana, Jarasandha and others were said to be masters of the gada.

Gama Singh

Gadowar Singh Sahota (born December 8, 1954) is an Indian-Canadian semi-retired professional wrestler known as Gama Singh and Great Gama currently signed with Impact Wrestling as a manager for Desi Hit Squad. Sahota was a villainous mainstay and top attraction in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling in Calgary for much of the 1970s and 1980s. Sahota also wrestled internationally in Japan, South Africa, Germany, Kuwait, Dubai, Oman, Australia, the United States and the Caribbean. He also worked sporadically, mostly on overseas tours, for Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from 1980-86. His nephew is former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal.

Imam Baksh Pahalwan

Imam Baksh was a renowned wrestler and a practitioner of the Indian wrestling style of Pehlwani. Imam was also the brother of Ghulam "the great Gama" Muhammad. Imam had arrived in England by April, 1910, along with fellow wrestlers from India, including his brother Ghulam Muhammad, Ahmed Bux, and Gamu, to participate in European catch wrestling tournaments.

Health and Strength magazine announced "The Invasion of the Indian Wrestlers" in its May 14, 1910, issue. The members of the Indian group were listed as Gama, Champion of India; Imam Baksh, Champion of Lahore; Ahmed Baksh, Champion of Amritsar; and Gamu, Champion of Jalandhar.

Imam Baksh wrestled Swiss champion John Lemm during his career. The match between Baksh and Lemm ended with Baksh defeating the Swiss champion.

In 1918, Gama Ghulam Muhammad, in a major tournament at Kolhapur, passed his title of Indian Champion to Imam Bux, who had thrown Rahim Sultaniwala in 20 minutes.

Imam Baksh was reportedly a superior ground wrestler compared to Ghulam Muhammad. Henry Werner had written that letter saying that Imam Bux would have been a better opponent for Stanislaus Zbyszko than for Gama. The editor of Health and Strength wrote that, "in my opinion, he [Gama] is not quite so clever a wrestler as his brother, Imam Bux, who enjoys the advantage of a longer reach."

By the mid-1940s Gama continued to put out challenges but added a stipulation. The stipulation was that anyone who wanted to wrestle the great Gama had to wrestle and defeat Imam first. No one did.

Inbuan wrestling

Inbuan is a form of wrestling native to the people of Mizoram in India. Inbuan is said to have originated in the village of Dungtlang in 1750. It was recognized as a sport after the Mizo people migrated from Burma to the Lushai Hills.

Inbuan involves very strict rules prohibiting kicking, stepping out of the circle and even bending of the knees. The contest is held in a circle 15–16 feet in diameter on carpet or grass. The objective is to lift one's opponent off his feet while strictly adhering to the rules. The matches are held in three rounds each of 30–60 seconds of duration, the match generally continues till a wrestler either breaks a rule or is lifted off his feet.

Another feature of this form of wrestling is the catch-hold belt worn by the wrestlers around the waist. It has to remain tight all through the match.

Katar (dagger)

The katar or katara, is a type of push dagger from the Indian subcontinent. The weapon is characterised by its H-shaped horizontal hand grip which results in the blade sitting above the user's knuckles. Unique to the Indian subcontinent, it is the most famous and characteristic of Indian daggers. Ceremonial katars were also used in worship.

List of Kalarippayattu films

Following is a list of films featuring the martial art form Kalarippayattu.

Mike Shaw

Michael Paul Shaw (May 9, 1957 – September 11, 2010) was an American professional wrestler who was best known for his stint in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as Norman the Lunatic, and as Bastion Booger in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Mukna

Mukna is a form of folk wrestling from the north-east Indian state of Manipur. It is popular in Imphal, Thoubal and Bishnupur. The game is generally played on the last day of the Lai Haraoba festival and is an intrinsic part of the ceremonial functions.

Matches begin with the competitors holding each other's belts called ningri. The object is to pin the opponent with their back touching the ground. The winner is called a yatra. Mukna contains many techniques (lou) which require absolute physical fitness and skill to be mastered. Holding the opponent's neck, hair, ear or legs with the hands is not permitted. Any strikes are also considered fouls. Anyone who touches the ground with any part of their body besides the feet is declared the loser.

Wrestlers are paired according to weight-class. The traditional attire not only protects the players' vital points but also helps to identify the pana or the yek to which the wrestler belongs.

Pehlwani

Pehlwani is a form of wrestling from the Indian subcontinent. It was developed in the Mughal Empire by combining native malla-yuddha with influences from Persian varzesh-e bastani. The words pehlwani and kushti derive from the Persian terms pahlavani and koshti respectively. It is likely that the word derives from the Iranian word "Pehalavi" denoting to people of Iranian descent.

A practitioner of this sport is referred to as a pehlwan while teachers are known as ustad. Many southern Indian practitioners of traditional malla-yuddha consider their art to be the more "pure" form of Indian wrestling, but most South Asians do not make this clear distinction and simply view kushti as the direct descendent of ancient malla-yuddha, usually downplaying the foreign influence as inconsequential.

Stampede World Mid-Heavyweight Championship

The Stampede World Mid-Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling title, one of the lesser known secondary titles created for Stampede Wrestling in 1959, and was the focal point of the 1982-83 feud between the Dynamite Kid and the Great Gama. The title would be defended for roughly four years, although being recognized by the promotion until it was abandoned some time around October 1985, when Dynamite Kid (who was wrestling in the WWF at that point) was last recognized as still holding the title. There have been a total of six recognized champions who have had a combined 11 official reigns.

Stanislaus Zbyszko

Jan Stanisław Cyganiewicz (April 1, 1879 – September 23, 1967), better known by the ring name Stanislaus Zbyszko, was a Polish strongman and professional wrestler — a two-time World Heavyweight Champion at his highest profile in the United States during the 1920s. The surname Zbyszko was only a nickname, which was given him by friends due to his bravery when he was a child; it was the name of a fictional medieval Polish knight from the historical novel The Knights of the Cross by Henryk Sienkiewicz. He was the brother of Wladek Zbyszko.

Strongman (strength athlete)

A strongman is a man who competes in strength athletics. In the 19th century, the term strongman referred to an exhibitor of strength or similar circus performers who displayed feats of strength. When strength sports were codified into their own categories such as weightlifting, powerlifting, etc, Strongman became its own specified category in strength sports.

Urumi

The urumi (Malayalam: ഉറുമി, urumi; Tamil: உறுமி, urumi, Sinhalese: එතුණු කඩුව ethunu kaduwa; Hindi: āra) is a sword with a flexible whip-like blade, originating from the Indian subcontinent, notable in what is now southern India and Sri Lanka. It is thought to have existed from as early as the Sangam period.

The urumi is considered one of the most difficult weapons to master due to the risk of injuring oneself. It is treated as a steel whip and therefore requires prior knowledge of that weapon as well as the sword. For this reason, the urumi is always taught last in Indian martial arts.

The word urumi is of Keralite origin. In the state's southern region, it is more commonly called a chuttuval, from the words for coiling or spinning (chuttu) and sword (val). Alternative Tamil names for the weapon are surul katti (curling sword) surul val (curling blade) and surul pattakatti (சுருள் பட்டாக்கத்தி).

Varma kalai

Varma Kalai (Tamil:வர்மக்கலை varmakkalai), is a Tamil traditional art of vital points. It originated in Tamil Nadu, India. It is a component of traditional massage, alternative medicine, traditional yoga and martial arts in which the body's pressure points (Varmam) are manipulated to heal or cause harm. The healing application called Vaidhiya Murai is a part of used Siddha Medicine (siddha vaidyam). Its combat application is known as Adimurai, Adi Murai or Varma Adimurai meaning "pressure-point striking", and can be done either empty-handed or with a blunt weapon such as a stick or staff. Usually taught as an advanced stage of Nadar Fighting Systems, strikes are targeted at the nerves, veins, tendons, soft tissues or ligaments, organs and bone joints.

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