Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt (22 May 1878 – 23 May 1960), commonly known as Rustam-e-Hind, and by the ring name The Great Gama, was a Pehalwani wrestler in British India and a strongman. In the early 20th century, he was an undefeated wrestling champion of the world.
Baksh was born into a Kashmiri Muslim family of wrestlers. The Baksh family is believed by historians to originally have been Kashmiri Brahmins Of the Bhutta Clan who converted to Islam during Muslim rule in the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent.
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.
Google paid tribute to India’s yesteryear star wrestler Gama Pehlwan, aka ‘The Great Gama’, with a doodle on his 144th birth anniversary. Gama Pehlwan was the most revered name among Indian wrestlers during his era as he didn’t just achieve international success but also earned the masses’ respect through his actions off the mat before his death in 1960.
Gama became an overnight sensation in the county when he held Rustam-e-Hind (Indian champion) Raheem Baksh Sultaniwala for a draw. Gama’s sturdiness during the bout earned him recognition and was soon touted as the successor to Sultaniwala’s Rustam-e-Hind title.
Known to be undefeated throughout his 52-year-old wrestling career with rivals barely lasting less than a minute in front of him, Gama’s reputation soon called for invitations from international events as well. And the 110kg wrestler reigned supreme at the highest of stages in London. On his way to the World Championship (Rustam-e-Zamana) title in 1910, he defeated greats like world champion Stanislaus Zbyszko, Frank Gotch, and Benjamin Roller with none of the bouts going beyond a few minutes, and became the World Champion in 1910.
Gama remained undefeated throughout his career stretching over half a decade and ended with his retirement at the age of 74. He won most of his bout with familiar dominance despite multiple challenges by the same opponents barring a few formidable opponents.
Gama even earned respect off the mat as well as he saved the life of Hindus living on Mohni Road in Lahore, where he shifted in early 1947 ahead of Indian independence and subsequent partition. Enjoying a great bond with the Hindu majority locality of Mohni Road, Gama promised to save the lives of the community with his life amid the rising tension of riots and kept his words by keeping rioters at bay from harming the residents of the colony. He then escorted them all to safety at the border with riots intensifying while bearing expenses of their rations for a week.
Checkout more such content at: https://gogomagazine.in/category/writeups-volume-8/