The Untold Story of Gama Pehlwan: The Greatest Wrestler in History

The Gama Pehlwan, or “the wrestler who has overcome all obstacles”, is an Indian icon known for his strength, courage, and resilience. He is a symbol of the unyielding human spirit and an inspiration to people from all walks of life. The story of the Gama Pehelwan is one of overcoming impossible odds, and his journey is one that everyone can learn from.

Who is Gama Pehelawan?  What makes him unique? How did he become successful?

Gama Pehlwan is a well-known Indian wrestler.  Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt.


In his career, he had participated in wrestling tournaments all over the world including London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and New York City. He won many medals and trophies for India in wrestling events such as the Olympics Games and World Championships. Gama Pehlwan also played a significant role in shaping Indian wrestling as a sport.

The Great Gama was a world famous wrestler from the 19th century. He was undefeated bare-knuckle champion of India for 52 years.  He won more than 5000 bouts in his wrestling career. He was the world heavyweight champion for 26 years. Early on in his career, he adopted the name Great Gama and became a disciple of Ghulam Mohiuddin. At the age of 13 he defeated Rustam-e-Zaman and won the title of Pehlwan-e-Punjab (Champion of Punjab). Years later he started his own Akhara at Lahore, where he trained greats like Dara Singh, Bholu Pehlwan and many others. Aside from Dara Singh, Gama trained many great Indian wrestlers who went on to win international championships including King Kong, Nanak Singh and Hamida Khanum who later became a famous actress. The Great Gama also prepared a diet for his disciples that was rich in protein but had no meat in it as he was a devout Muslim and did not eat meat himself.

great gama

Google Doodle

Gama Pehlwan was widely considered one of best wrestlers of all time. Gama remained undefeated throughout his international matches and earned the name “The Great Gama.” Today’s Doodle—created by guest artist Vrinda Zaveri—celebrates Gama Pehlwan’s accomplishments in the ring but also the impact and representation he brought to Indian culture.

Traditional wrestling in North India started to develop around the early 1900s. Lower class and working class migrants would compete in royal gymnasiums and gained national recognition when lavish tournaments were won. During these tournaments, spectators admired the wrestlers’ physiques and were inspired by their disciplined lifestyle.

Gama’s workout routine  included 500 lunges and 500 pushups at only 10 years old. In 1888, he competed in a lunge contest with over 400 wrestlers from around the country and won. His success at the competition gained him fame throughout the royal states of India. It wasn’t until he turned 15 that he picked up wrestling. By 1910, people were reading Indian newspapers with headlines praising Gama as a national hero and world champion. Gama is also considered a hero for saving the lives of many Hindus during the partition of India in 1947.  He spent the rest of his days until his death in 1960 in Lahore, which became a part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Gama earned many titles during his career, notably the Indian versions of the World Heavyweight Championship (1910) and the World Wrestling Championship (1927) where he was bestowed with the title of “Tiger” after the tournament. He was even presented a silver mace by the Prince of Wales during his visit to India to honor the great wrestler. Gama’s legacy continues to inspire modern day fighters. Even Bruce Lee is a known admirer and incorporates aspects of Gama’s conditioning into his own training routine!

Happy 144th birthday, Gama Pehlwan!