Gama Pehlwan: Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt (22 May 1878 – 23 May 1960) was a colonial Indian pehlwani wrestler and strongman known as Rustam-e-Hind. (Hindi-Urdu for “Rostam of India”) and by the ring moniker “The Great Gama.” He was the world’s undefeated wrestling champion in the early twentieth century.
Table of Contents
Gama Pehlwan: Who Was He?
Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt was a Kashmiri Muslim who was born on May 22, 1878, in Jabbowal village, Amritsar district, Punjab. He is regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the world, earning the moniker “The Great Gama” during his career. Gama Pehlwan has been a household name in India since the early twentieth century, and it is used to describe a person’s power. According to the Google Doodle blog, Gama maintained a training routine consisting of 500 lunges and 500 pushups every day when he was 10 years old, according to a Hindustan Times story. Gama began wrestling at the age of 15 and immediately attracted the attention of everyone around him due to his incredible power. He quickly made headlines when several newspapers in the area began to publish articles on his power and endurance.
Gama was also regarded as a national hero for his role in saving the lives of countless Hindus during India’s 1947 split.
Ghulam Mohammad Baksh was born on May 22, 1878, into a Kashmiri Muslim wrestling family in Jabbowal Village, Amritsar District, Punjab Province, British India (now Jabbowal, Kapurthala District, Punjab, India). Historians think the Bakshs were originally Kashmiri Hindus (Bhat) who converted to Islam during Muslim dominance in the Indian subcontinent’s Kashmir area.
He initially gained attention when he participated in a strongman tournament in Jodhpur at the age of ten, which featured several gruelling activities such as squats.
The competition drew over 400 wrestlers, with Gama finishing in the top fifteen and being crowned the winner by the Maharaja of Jodhpur due to his youth. The Maharaja of Datia then put Gama through his training.
Gama’s daily workout consisted of grappling with forty of his fellow akhada wrestlers (court). By wearing a doughnut-shaped wrestling apparatus called a Hasli of 1 Quintal, he could do a minimum of five thousand baithaks (squats) and three thousand dands (Indian word for pushups) in a day, and even more in 30 to 45 minutes (approx. 100 kilos).
Gama first met Raheem Bakhsh Sultaniwala in 1895, when he was 17 years old and faced then-Indian Wrestling Champion, middle-aged Raheem Bakhsh Sultaniwala, an ethnic Kashmiri wrestler from Gujranwala, Punjab Province, Colonial India (now in Pakistan). Raheem, who stands almost 7 feet tall and has a great win–loss record, was predicted to easily defeat the 5’7″ Gama. The only disadvantage Raheem had was his age, as he was far older than Gama and towards the conclusion of his career. The fight went on for hours before ending in a draw. Gama’s career was transformed by his match with Raheem. Following that, he was seen as a potential contender for the title of Rustam-e-Hind, or Indian Wrestling Champion. Gama was on the defence in the first bout, but went on the offence in the second. Despite severe bleeding from his nose and ears, he managed to seriously injure Raheem Bakhsh.
Except for the champion, Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala, Gama had defeated all the prominent Indian wrestlers who faced him by 1910. (the Rustam-e-Hind, or the lineal champion of India). He focused his attention on the rest of the world during this time. He was denied immediate admission to England due to his shorter stature.
Gama Pehalwan Diet
Gama used to drink 10 litres of milk daily. His indigenous chickens were also included in his diet. Along with this, he used to make a drink in which he used to drink about 200 grammes of almonds. This gave him strength and helped him beat the big wrestlers.
In 1902, Gama Pehlwan demonstrated his strength by lifting a 1,200-kg stone. The Baroda Museum now houses the stone. According to some sources, Gama’s workout routine included as many as 5000 squats and 3000 pushups every day.
The Prince of Wales presented the Great Gama with a silver mace on his visit to India to honour the great wrestler, and it is reported that Bruce Lee was a major fan of Gama Pehlwan’s conditioning and would adapt bits of it into his own training programme.
23 MAY 1960 at Lahore, Pakistan