Pride of Pakistan: Gama Pehalwan

Gama Pehalwan

As Pakistan is heading towards her 70th independence day, let’s remember the great sporting heroes that became pride of Pakistan. Gama Pehalwan is one of such heroes.

Ghulam Mohammad Buksh, who is famously known as the Gama Pehalwan or the Great Gama, ruled the world of wrestling in his 52-year long career.

He was born in Amritsar, which was a part of British controlled India, on 22 May, 1878, but he later moved to Pakistan. He hailed from a well-known wrestling family.

Gama Pehalwan came to limelight when he challenged the 7 feet tall and the then Indian wrestling champion, Raheem Bakhsh Sultani Wala at an age of just 17.

He was a wrestler with a small structure of just 5 feet 7 inches, it was expected that Sultani Wala will easily win the fight. But, the young wrestler put his heart and soul in the bout, the match continued till several hours and then eventually ended up as a draw.

By 1910, Gama had won against all the top wrestlers of India, except his first opponent Sultani Wala. He shifted his focus to West and sailed to England to compete with Western wretlers.

Due to his small height, he could not enter the tournament immediately. But, then he issued a challenge that he will face three wrestlers in thirty minutes and win all three matches. He still failed to get any opponent.

Afterward, he challenged specific heavyweight wrestlers and offered them if he loses he will pay prize money and will sail back to his country. His first Western opponent was Benjamin Roller, he was beaten in just 1.40 minutes in the first bout and in 9.10 minutes on the second occasion. The following day, he defeated 12 wrestlers that got him a berth in the tournament.

Gama faced Stanislaus Zbyszko in a bout, who is considered as one of the finest wrestlers of all time. During their fight in 1910, Zbyszko was taken down by the great wrestler and remained in that position for the next two hours. Zbyszko was defensive and managed a draw, which angered the crowd gathered to watch the bout. In their second face off Zbyszko did not show up, thus, Gama was announced, winner.

Later in his career, he once again faced Sultani Wala and this time he managed to win the fight and won the Rustam-e-Hind title. Gama always had high regards for Sultani Wala and termed him his toughest opponent.

The Great Gama used to have an intense workout. He used to do grappling with 40 wrestlers daily, followed by five thousand squats and three thousand push-ups. His diet was also unreal, he used to drink four gallons of milk, one and a half pound of crushed almond formed into paste by mixing different fruit juices.

The Great Gama died on 23 May, 1960 in Lahore Punjab.