He was the greatest wrestler to ever come out of India and is still considered one of the greatest of all time. Take a look at the career of the Great Gama.
The Great Gama
Real Name: Ghulam Mohammed
Stats: 5′ 7″ 235 lbs.
By Steve Slagle
The early portion of the nineteen hundreds was truly a great time in the long history of professional wrestling, and an era that produced some of the most skilled and dangerous grapplers the sport has ever known. Competing at a time during which pro wrestling commanded great respect & worldwide popularity, the wrestling superstars of the day were among the most famous athletes in the world. And, one of the most recognized names from that period of time would surely have to belong to the Indian powerhouse known (and feared) across the world as The Great Gama.
While not the tallest of competitors, was a truly dangerous shooter who was generally regarded as one of the most powerful men in the sport during his era. At over 230 pounds of solid muscle and with a wealth of grappling knowledge, The Great Gama was, indeed, a force to be reckoned with…
He was born Ghulam Mohammed in 1880 and began his career at the turn of the century, wrestling in his native land with great success. However, it was not until he travelled to Great Britain in 1910 that Gama truly became known across the world. Brought to the U.K. during the height of wrestling’s popularity by promoter R.B. Benjamin, Gama quickly became the Australian match maker’s star attraction. Gama (along with a troupe of other Indian wrestlers brought to England by Benjamin) drew large crowds at numerous exhibitions in London, each time greatly impressing their European audiences with a unique and effective style of grappling.
Gama’s combination of power & skill along with his unique, foreign wrestling style eventually resulted in a marked decline in opponenents for the Indian shooter (as well as his highly skilled troupe of wrestlers). Many of the local British grapplers were reluctant to put their win/loss record on the line against Gama, who was undefeated in European competition. Furthermore, the Indian powerhouse found that his name recognition (and fearsome reputation) had also travelled across the Atlantic to America; it is said that both Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt were among the top names of the era that declined an offer to compete against Gama.
However, despite his problems finding suitable opponents, Gama did come across one world-famous competitor who was not unwilling to face off in a bout. That man was Stanislaus Zbyszco (pictured, standing on the left) and the two superstars wrestled to a controversial draw. Nearly twenty years later, Gama and Zbyszco had a rematch in India that drew the largest crowd ever for a wrestling event in that country. This time around, though, the veteran bulldozer Gama attacked the aging Zbyszco and secured the victory (by knockout) in an amazing 21 seconds before a rabid hometown audience.
Another major foe of The Great Gama’s was the gigantic 6′ 9″ Rahim Bux Sultaniwala. With a height difference of over a foot to his advantage, the nearly three hundred pound Sultaniwala gave Gama all he could handle and more. In addition to Zbyszco and Sultaniwala, other noted opponents of Gama’s include American champion Benjamin Roller, the well-known Swede Jesse Peterson, Johann Lemm of Switzerland and French star Maurice Deriaz.
Eventually, he returned to his homeland and remained, by far, the sub-continent’s biggest wrestling attraction. Gama’s legendary career continued into the late 1930’s, and he saw the sport undergo many drastic changes during his more than thirty years in the business. Additionally, not only was Gama the biggest star in his region of the world, his family eventually also became very well known and respected, particularly his brother, Imam Bux, who was a dominant Indian Heavyweight champion. Gama’s nephews, known as the Bholu Brothers, were also major stars in India and the surrounding countries.
By 1940, following a remarkable career that spanned more than three decades, Gama retired from professional wrestling. Perhaps not coincidentally, the sport underwent a drastic decline in popularity in his homeland after Gama retired, to the point where — by the end of World War II — pro wrestling had all but disappeared from India.
Then, in 1963, Ghulam Mohammed, known worldwide as the fearsome Great Gama, passed away at the age of 83. One of the true pioneers of professional wrestling, Gama’s legend continues to live on and we at The Ring Chronicle are proud to induct this genuine ‘founding father’ into the T.R.C. Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame……