MG is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places
Dara Singh and Gama (Ghulam Bux) are two of the greatest wrestlers India has produced. Before readers get confused both wrestlers were master of the "khusti" the Indian age old art of wrestling. This is also referred to as "pehalwani". The Mahabharata makes its first reference to Indian style wrestling called " khusti" . Th epic written around 5000 BC mentions that the warrior Bhima was a great wrestler. Bhima was one of the Pandavas and as per mythology was the younger brother of the god Hanuman.
Gama and wrestlers were two wrestlers from a different age. Gama wrestled when India was a slave nation and there was hardly any state patronage.At that time there were very few sporting activities and the sport was sustained by a few rich maharajahs. Ghulam was lucky as he caught the eye of the Maharajah of Patiala.He came under the aegis of the Maharajah of Patiala Sardar Bhupinder Singh and could live and wrestle freely without any worry. The Maharajah bankrolled him but after his death, Ghulam went into hard times.
Dara Singh is the product of Independent India and he could charm his way into Mumbai films and made his name. He retired a rich man and this benefitted him as he lived at a different age.
Gama was born in 1880 and died in 1964 in Lahore, while Dara Singh was born in 1928 and died in 2014. Comparing two wrestlers from a different time period is not easy but one can say that both were exponents of the Indian art of wrestling called Khusti or Pehalwani. Both wrestlers also practiced freestyle wrestling and Dara later took up American freestyle wrestling as well.
Dara and Gama
India is a land that is diverse and many follow different religions. Thus Gama was a Muslim while Dara Singh was a Sikh. However, both hailed from Punjab and spoke the same language, Punjabi. Ghulam had great moments of glory and was rightly given the crown of world champion. One cannot forget that in a bout arranged by the Maharajah of Patiala, he beat the then world Champion Stanley Zbyszko inside 5 minutes. He was awarded the title Rustom-e –Zamana or world Champion. Gama showed his prowess when in about he beat the American Champion Benjamin Roller and pinned him to the mat in a matter of 1:40 minute.
Dara Singh was a wrestling icon and his defeats of King Kong and Tarlok Singh are stand-out performances. Both men are wrestling icons of their times, though the modern youngsters do not know much about Gama. It's almost like a dream that he beat the world champion Zbyszko and pinned him to the mat in 42 seconds.
Dara is more famous and his name adorns the wrestling hall of fame. He is the only Indian wrestler whose name figures in WWF wrestling hall of fame. Dara became a professional wrestler and took to American-style wrestling. He won hundreds of bouts and was awarded the title Rustam-e Hind. Dara deserves his name as a legend in wrestling's hall of fame. But he did enough to be remembered for all time to come.
Dara Singh went into films and ruled the silver screen for 5 decades. He earlier did strong man roles but switched later to strong character roles.
Both Dara and Gama did India proud. Dara in the early sixties was offered a role in a Mumbai film. He was to do 4 bouts for the film and the public loved it and led to a career in films that lasted 50 years. Dara was famous as a warrior and though a poor actor he won the adulation of the public with his magnificent body.It is a matter of pride that the sub continent produced two great wrestlers and made India proud.
Ghulam never made much money while Dara wallowed in wealth. This is part of the game and one has to accept it. Both were great wrestlers though my preference is more for Ghulam Bux.
Another point that needs to be highlighted is the both the wrestlers were vegetarians. Ghulam hardly ate any meat and his diet was mainly centered around mIlk and dry fruits. Dara also consumed lots of milk and dry fruits. But he also consumed eggs and his breakfast consisted of 36 egg omelet. Later Dara would occasionally take some eat, but both wrestlers had a mainly vegetarian diet. They also trained without weights and used only the Hindu system of exercise which is situps and pushups. Occasionally they trained with wooden clubs.
Dara and Ghulam are gone into history, but it is worth remembering these two icons and take inspiration from their lives.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 15, 2021:
Thank you, Tom, sad that Gama died in poverty. Dara made a lot of money.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 27, 2020:
Tom, nice of you to have commented. Gama had a sad end in Lahore. Perhaps he would have been better off if he stayed back in India.
tom on September 26, 2020:
jinnah refused pension for gama ,dara acted in a malayalam movie ,which was a hit , he played himself in this big budget movie of 1980s,only indian in international hal lof fame of wrestling
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 24, 2016:
Thank you, Chitra for sparing time and commenting
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 23, 2016:
Very interesting details about the two great Kushti/ wrestling greats of India! While we are more familiar with Dara Singh , Gama's talent is also known to most of us. You are right about Dara Singh that he became more famous and wealthy because of his association with film industry.
How thoughtful of you to write a hub about these legends of India.
Thank you for sharing this well researched hub!