Born in the colonial India name Ghulam Muhammad, also dubbed as the Great Gama and Gama Pehalwan was one of the greatest wrestler to ever existed on earth. With an undefeated five decades of career, the legend of Gama Pehalwan was on the roll in the mud pits and akharas of Colonial Rural India. Such was his greatness that even Bruce Lee drew inspiration from him. Gama is considered as an icon of our struggle against colonialism.
Born in Amritsar in 1878, Gama was awarded the world Heavyweight title in 1910 as he defeated international wrestlers in London. There are stories, that people share is he once lifted a stone weighing over 1,200 kilograms on his chest in a competition held in 1902 and left the audience of Baroda amusing. The stone is now preserved in Baroda Museum.
Gama used to do 3000 pushups and 5000 squats everyday, and his daily diet had 10 liters of milk, six desi chickens and a pound and a half of crushed almond paste turn into a tonic drink.
His winning span started when he was just 10 years old, as he defeated every wrestler who challenged him. He was just 5 feet and 7 inches tall, some wrestlers even made fun of him, but he never lost his concentration.
By 1910, Gama had defeated all the prominent Indian wrestlers that opened the doors of the western world championships for him. He went on to defeat world champions. In many cases his fights lasted for only a few minutes, some even ended in few seconds.
After partition in 1947, Gama moved to Pakistan. Although Gama did continued to fight till 1952, but he failed to find any new opponent. He died in Lahore in 1963 after a prolonged illness. He was suffering from asthma and heart disease.
Joseph Alter states that in all the accounts of the wrestler that he had studied, Gama was always presented as, “being not only strong and skillful, but also supremely honest, hard working, pious and forthright.”
Bruce Lee was an eager devotee of Gama’s preparation schedule. Lee read articles about Gama and how he utilized his activities to construct his fanciful quality for wrestling, and Lee immediately consolidated them into his own particular schedule. A percentage of the preparation schedules he got was: “The Cat Stretch or Hindu Push-ups” – an adaptation of Push up focused around Yoga, “The Squat” – which is called “Baithak” in India, it’s essentially known as “profound knee curve“.