Ghulam Mohammad Baksh, fondly remembered as The ‘Great Gama’ and ‘Gama Pehelwan’ is probably the only wrestler on the surface of the earth who remained undefeated in his career spanning 50 years. This pehelwan is considered as the best among the bests as he started participating in wrestling at an early age of 10 and since then remained undefeated forever. Great Gama is also world famous for the reason that he had lifted a stone weighing 1200 kgs when he was just 24 years old. Yes, you read it right he had lifted a stone weighing 1200 kgs which otherwise would require 20-25 members to move it. It’s quite natural for you to be curious to know more about this superhuman that lived on this planet, who interestingly inspired the likes of Bruce Lee too. So let’s get to know more about The Great Gama.
Who is The Great Gama?
Gama Pehelwan, was born on 22 May 1878, to a Kashmiri family in Amritsar. Gama’s father Muhammad Aziz Baksh was also a famous wrestler, and after his father’s death, the Maharaja (King) of Datia accepted Gama as his disciple and started training him. Gama was already winning domestic wrestling tournaments at a tender age of 10, and interestingly this winning streak continued till he hanged his boots 50 years later.
One of the important advantages a wrestler can have is height. We do see that wrestlers with good height have a great advantage when it comes to bouts, but The Gama Pehelwan was only 5’7”. Even though he was short compared to his opponents, his height never deterred him from fighting and defeating his opponents.
Gama was awarded the Indian version of the World Heavyweight Championship on 15th of October 1990, for there was no one who could match the skills and power Gama Pehelwan possessed.
Gama Pehelwan became The Great Gama when he lifted a rock weighing about 1200 kgs, the weight of the rock equivalent to that of two baby elephants. The most interesting and funny fact is that when the same rock had to be moved from its place to a Museum nearby, it took nearly 25 people to carry it.
Road to Greatness
The Great Gama attracted the attention of wrestling lovers in 1895 when Gama faced Rahim Baksh Sultaniwala. Rahim, the Indian Wrestling giant of the time was the hot favorite for the faceoff thanks to his previous records and his bulky frame of 6’9”. But as fate would have it Gama proved more than a worthy contender, and the match ended in a draw but not before the two contenders tried all their might for hours together.
Though the match against Rahim brought Gama to the much-needed limelight, he became the darling of India’s wrestling lovers when he went on to face all of India’s major wrestlers and defeated each one of them far too easily.
In 1910, Gama and his brother went on to England to take part in the International Championship, but he was denied entry into the tournament for a reason best known to the organizers. Gama, not the one to bow down and return to India challenged that he could defeat any wrestler taking part in the tournament and true to his words, he defeated Benjamin Roller, the American wrestling champion within a mere 1 minute, 40 seconds.
Polish Champion, Stanislaus Zbysko was Gama’s next opponent, and when the Polish wrestler realized that Gama was too powerful for him to handle, in rather the most disgraceful way, Stanislaus remained hooked to the mat for about 2 and a half hour which was treated as a shame to the sport by the wrestling community. Gama challenged Zbysko for a rematch but the latter did not show up, and as a result, the Gama Pehelwan was finally named as the new undisputed International Champion.
The secret behind Gama’s amazing mental and physical strength was the rigorous training he followed religiously in disciplining himself. Gama would do a whopping 5,000 baithaks a day along with 3,000 standing pushups. His training did not end there. After doing the baithak and push up, Gama would wrestle with 40 wrestlers in his arcade. The Gama Pehelwan got the energy to do all these mentally and physically challenging tasks by drinking two gallons of milk every day and by consuming 600 grams of crushed almond paste.
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”, “the squat” (known as “baithak”), and also known as the “deep-knee bend.”
Gama Pehelwan – The wrestler with a heart of Gold.
Post-Partition Gama went to Lahore to settle in Pakistan. He lived on Mohni Road which was also inhabited by a few people belonging to Hindu community. When the mobs were on a rampage and were seen killing the people of other community on both the sides of the border, they also reached Mohni Road. Gama took the responsibility on his shoulder to protect the lives of people of Hindu community, and he not only saved their lives but also made sure that they were sent across the border safely.
The man who was called as ‘World’s Greatest Wrestler’ breathed his last in a miserable condition as he suffered from heart-related diseases. Just a day after his 82nd birthday, the wrestler lost his battle against life and breathed his last on 23rd of May, 1960.