Ghulam Muhammad, also known as the ‘Great Gama’ is considered the greatest Kushti fighter. With an undefeated career spanning over five decades, the legend of the ‘Great Gama’ was built in the mud pits and akharas of pre-independence rural India. Such was his fame and popularity that even Bruce Lee drew inspiration from him.
Gama, a legendary sports champion from pre-Independence India is an important icon of the struggle against colonialism.
Gama was born in Amritsar in 1878, and fought his way up to achieving the World Heavyweight title in 1910, defeating international wrestlers in London. He’s reputed to have once lifted a stone weighing over 1,200 kilograms in front of a gasping crowd. This stone is now preserved in the Baroda Museum.
Gama was a strong and committed athlete. Every day he would do five thousand squats and three thousand pushups. His daily diet included 10 litres of milk, six chickens, and a pound and a half of crushed almond paste made into a tonic drink.
Gama’s winning streak started when he was 10 years old, defeating every wrestler who challenged him. Gama was considered short for a wrestler at only 5 feet, 7 inches tall, but he was strong.
At the age of 32, Gama had defeated all prominent Indian wrestlers, and took the international stage, to become World Heavyweight Champion. In many cases his bouts lasted for only a few minutes, some even ended in less.
After the Partition in 1947, Gama moved to Pakistan, dying in Lahore in 1960 at the age of 82.
The ‘Great Gama’s’ legacy was picked by legends, including Bruce Lee, who was an avid follower of Gama’s training routine. Lee learnt a number of moves from him, including ‘The Cat Stretch’ which was a version of push-ups based on Yoga.