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The Great Gama. One of Sports 100 Most Influential Figures

The Great Gama. One of Sports 100 Most Influential Figures

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Published by Aizad Sayid
This is a short biography of one of the greatest sportsman in history who played over five thousand competitive matches and never lost one!
This is a short biography of one of the greatest sportsman in history who played over five thousand competitive matches and never lost one!

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Aizad Sayid on Nov 11, 2011
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09/28/2013

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The Great Gama- One of Sport’s 100 MostInfluential Figures
 There have been few times that any sportsmanhas been able to completely dominate anddefeat all challengers over not just years butdecades. Ghulam Muhammad "Gama" wasone such man. When people think of wrestlingoutside the United States and Europe, thecountries that most often come to mind includeMexico, Japan, and Canada. However, it ispresent day Pakistan that is home to whatmany historians consider as the greatestlegitimate wrestler who ever lived.Consequently, the Great Gama, is its mostinfluential figure, for having contestedapproximately 5000 matches, and never losingeven one! The sport of wrestling maintains along a tradition of Muslims in India, starting with Emperor Babur who woulddo strength training by running with his trainer sitting on his shoulders.Nonetheless, although there are many legends and folklore concerningancient grappling heroes, the first western documented account of professional wrestling within the India’s borders took place when Englishchampion Tom Cannon wasdefeated by 21-year old KareemBuksh during an international tourin 1892.It was not until shortly after theturn of the 20th century whenIndia developed its first realwrestling superstar in the form of a relatively short 57twohundred and thirty pound giantnicknamed the Great Gama. AMuslim of Kashmiri heritage,Ghulam Mohammed was born in1880 in Amritsar, India, where hewas a member of one of India’spremier wrestling families of the time. Though his father died when he was 8,
 
he continued training under the direction of his grandfather and uncle. At theage of ten, Ghulam Muhammad took part in the national physical exercisecompetition, where he impressed the Raja of Jodhpur with his supreme levelof endurance.Gama began formally competing at age 15 as “the GreatGama,” and he immediately put together a series of impressive wins duringa tournament organized by the Maharajah of Rewa. Then at age 19, theGreat Gama was elevated to superstardom when he scored a draw againstthe famous Indian Wrestler, Rahim Sultaniwala, described as standing nearly7 feet tall and weighing close to 300 pounds. By 1906, Gama wascommissioned to wrestle for the court, and over the next few years, hedeveloped a reputation as the most feared wrestler in all of India whiletaking on various city champions throughout the region. Then in 1909, heavenged another prior draw by defeating the previously unbeaten GulamMohiuddin, who had been regarded by many as the Great Gama’s superior,but who went down in defeat just eight minutes into the competition.Following the victory over Gulam Mohiuddin,Gama was consequently hailed as the newChampion of India; and he immediately tookon all comers while defending his title againstthe country’s top wrestlers. Gama wasanxious to test himself against the world’sbest grapplers; and in 1910, an English sportspromoter named R.B. Benjamin gave him thatchance when he assembled a travelling circusof Indian wrestlers (including the Great Gama,Imam Bux, Ahmed Bux, and Gamu) tochallenge the top western champions whiletouring throughout Europe. Billed as “the Lionof the Punjab,” Gama subsequently issued anopen challenge where he vowed to beat anywrestler in the world; and he soon establishedhimself as a world-class competitor bydefeating some of the sport’s most renownedgrapplers, including Sweden’s Jesse Peterson(then world champion), France’s MauriceDeriaz, and Switzerland’s Johann Lemm.Gama’s bold challenge was also accepted by“Doc” Benjamin Roller, an American championwho was the longtime holder of the World
 
Light Heavyweight Title. On August 8, 1910, Gama stunned a sold-out crowdat the Alhambra Theatre in London when he quickly defeated Dr. Roller intwo straight falls and broke his ribs. The Times of London commenting on thematch, described Gama as unbeatable.Frank Gotch was recognized as wrestling’s undisputed World Champion in1910. Gama felt insulted that Gotch would dare lay claim to such a titlewithout ever having faced him. Therefore, he formally challenged Gotch toface him one-on-one, but Gotch refused the invitation to wrestle against anIndian. Instead, Gama’s challenge was greeted by the notorious StanislausZbyszko, a celebrated European Champion from Poland who had wrestledGotch to a one-hour draw the previous year. On September 10, 1910, Gamafaced Zbyszko in the final of the John Bull World Championships beforetwelve thousand fans at the Shepherd’s Bush Stadium in London. The Polishstrongman crafted a defensive strategy in order to slow down Gama; and hesubsequently hugged the mat for nearly 3 hours before the bout waseventually declared a draw. The Sporting Life magazine described the matchas having just two minutes of actual wrestling; and Zbyszko’s tactics drewthe ire of fans as his reputation plummeted.After defeating Hindu champion Pandit Biddo in 1916, Gama soon ran out of worthy challengers; and when none of the remaining wrestling championswould agree to face him, he unofficially retired in 1919 while passing his titlealong to his brother Imam Bux. On January 29, 1928, the Great Gama made acelebrated return to the mat in order to face Zbyszko in a rematch of theirfamous bout from some eighteen years earlier. Despite both men now beingwell into their 40’s, the return match drew sixty thousand fans to a specially-built stadium constructed by the Maharajah of Patalia, as Zbyszko was billedas one of the few challengers whom Gama had never been able to defeat.But this time, the Great Gama would embarrass the Polish legend, pinninghim in just 30 seconds.Sir Atholl Oakley, a British Amateur champion wrestler and a contemporaryof Gama, once wrote that Gama once picked up Zybsko (who weighed 238pounds) held him over his head with one hand, and threw him on the floor.He could squeeze apples in each hand until they were fully mashed.According to George McKenzie, another famous wrestler of Gama’s era, hewould regularly crush potatoes during strength training. Tom Cannon whowas heavyweight champion of Europe in Catch wrestling said that heweighed 234 pounds when Gama grabbed his weightlifter’s belt, and liftedhim with one arm!

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