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Legendary The great GAMA

adam27roswell

New member
A little insight into the life of the "The Great gama", one of the greatest indian wrestlers. I just thought since we're talking of health, functional strength and endurance. He was a legend who made his mark. Dr. Joseph S Alter from University Of Pittsburgh wrote a article about him.




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The "Great" Gama (Urdu: گاما پھلوان ) (ca.1882 - May 22, 1953)[1][2] also known as "Gama Pahelvan", and "Lion of the Punjab", born Ghulam Muhammad (Urdu: غلام محمد), in Amritsar, Punjab, British India, was a renowned Kashmiri wrestler, warrior and a practitioner of Pehlwani wrestling. He was awarded the South Asian version of the World Heavyweight Championship on October 15, 1910. To this date he is the only wrestler in history who remained undefeated his whole life [1] which was substantial, as his career had spanned more than 50 years. He has been billed as the greatest Pehlwani wrestler in history.

Here's a list of exercises as per thewriteup by Dr Joseph Alter

Starting at the age of ten, Gama’s daily exercise routine
included not only five hundred​
bethaks, but five hundred dands

(jack-knifing push-ups) as well. Most importantly, according to Barkat
Ali, Gama regularly engaged in the hard exercise of pit digging, wherein
the hardpacked earth of the wrestling arena is dug up and “turned”
with a heavy hoe-like implement called a​
pharsa which can weigh
as much as twenty or thirty kilograms. Digging is done between
spread legs with back and legs bent. Starting in one comer of the pit,
wrestlers dig from side to side in curving arcs moving as quickly as
possible. Often the pit is dug twice or three times, starting each

time from a different comer. In addition to building stamina, this
exercise develops hand and wrist strength in particular, but also
lower back, buttock and thigh muscles. While still ten years old,
Gama’s special diet consisted of milk, almonds and fruit, three primary
ingredients in any wrestler’s diet. He did not start eating meat,​
butter, and clarified butter until he turned fifteen, around 1893.

After his success at the exercise competition, Gama’s fame
spread throughout the princely states of India, but he did not start
wrestling competitively until he was fifteen years old. Very quickly,
however, he proved to be virtually unbeatable and formally became
a wrestler in the court of Datiya soon thereafter. At this time Gama’s
exercise routine increased significantly. He is said to have regularly
done three thousand​
bethaks and fifteen hundred dands and run
one mile every day with a 120 pound stone ring around his neck.
2

With this increase in workload, Gama’s paternal uncle Mohammed
Baksh, along with Ida Pahalwan and his guru Madho Singh, added
meat and butter to Gama’s diet. He was also given​
yakhni, the boiled
down gelatinous extract of bones, joints, and tendons which is regarded
by many Muslim wrestlers as being a source of great strength, and
being particularly good for the development of knees, ankles, and
other joints. According to Rajindarsingh Munna, at this time Gama
was consuming twenty liters of milk, half a liter of clarified butter,

3/4 of a kilogram of butter, and four kilograms of fruit per day.
3

In 1908, two years before he went to London to compete
for the world championship belt, Gama’s regimen was increased to
five thousand bethaks and three thousand dands. Every morning he
would also work out by wrestling with forty compatriot wrestlers in
the royal court. Added to this, he began weight-lifting with a one
hundred pound grind stone and a​
santola (wooden bar-bell made
from a tree trunk). At this time Barkat Ali claims that he regularly
consumed either six chickens or the extract of five kilograms of mutton

mixed with a quarter pound of clarified butter, ten liters of milk
along with half a liter more of clarified butter, about 3/4 of a kilogram
of crushed almond paste made into a tonic drink, along with fruit juice​
and other things to promote good digestion.
5
 

Mr Brady

New member
Thanks for this, i've been looking at a lot of Indian wrestlers S&C methods lately and its nice to get a dose of history.

What was the source for this?
 

adam27roswell

New member
The source of this was a article by Dr. Joseph Altar. If you want to have a look at it. gimme your email id and I'd be more than glad to share it with you.

I got some more interesting facts on the Indian pehalwans
 
I remember Dr. Alter at the University of Pittsburgh, although I was disappointed with his book on Indian wrestling. I asked him if he trained with the wrestlers when he was there doing research on their lifestyle and that question was met with an "uhh uhh no...".
 

Wild Pegasus

New member
The Great Gama was a professional wrestler. Everything said about his food intake and training should be seen in that light. I love professional wrestling and always will, but their claims should never ever be taken at face value.
 

adam27roswell

New member
No Offense.... I don't know much of Dr Alter, but even he was a health enthusiast, training with the indian wrestlers would be a huge task at hand. Simply, because in parts of India where Pehalwani (wrestling) is practiced even today, it's about complete dedication, not a sport. It's always been a clash between two villages or schools of wrestling.
We still have some old school wrestling schools called the Akhadas where even today the students stay with master and learn from him.

Also FYI for those who don't know

Baithak = Deep Bend Hindu Squats
Dand= Hindu Push Up

these are basics of Indian catch wrestling (not the WWE wrestling) very much like Swing and TGU are the primordial workouts to build a strong base for KB's.
 

adam27roswell

New member
Wild Pegasus please allow me to dissuade from your point of view. if you're assuming Professional wrestling to be the one that is practiced today in WWE or in Olympics, it's not the same.

Like I said on my post above, these are not myths, but actual facts recorded by historians who were live witness. Unfotunately there were no video cameras to record the feats of strength.

If you'd like, I'd love to share the fact files I've collected of him. However, if we intend to look at something or someone under the shades of grey, then there's nothing much I can say.

Also, if one could spend a few minutes, here's a small collection of what Pehalwans in India were capable of and how seriously they took it

http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/India/IndianClubs/clubs01.htm
 
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adam27roswell

New member
Hey All...sorry I've always loved digging history of legendary people. The Great Gama being the best

Here are some google archives you'd love to read

http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...AAAIBAJ&pg=5458,711109&dq=gama+wrestler&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...AAAIBAJ&pg=2120,936448&dq=gama+wrestler&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...AAAAIBAJ&pg=4007,56719&dq=gama+wrestler&hl=en

http://articles.timesofindia.indiat...8379_1_stone-baroda-museum-museum-authorities

Like I said his legend is backed up by feats of strength, incomprehensible by many
 

specialk

New member
I don't mean to be difficult, but I have a very hard time believing the bit about him drinking 20 litres of milk per day... most of us here are familiar with GOMAD (gallon of milk a day) for increasing size and body weight. I had to check this on Google (I'm not too sharp with imperial measurements) and 20 litres converts to a whopping 5 gallons +... I've heard of people dying from renal failure after drinking less than two gallons of water in a day. I try to keep an open mind though, so is it seriously possible for someone to do this, even in the short term?
 

adam27roswell

New member
Thinking rationally I would agree with you Specialk... however I got to say I've seen a few people in my time who have a heavy consumption of food and milk. Not sure if it matches the eating habits of the Great Gama, but I would be interested in your find.
 

Stovin

New member
Thanks, interesting. There was a villain named "Great Gama" in Stampede Wrestling, paying homage I suppose.
 

fatman

New member
Gama's training and eating numbers may or may not be true, but bear in mind that he was a pro athlete back in the day... his life pretty much consisted of eating, training and wrestling, then eating, training and wrestling some more. I'd say the figures are possible.

The milk intake could be explained by fluid lost in training all day. It's pretty common to see people involved in manual labor demolish gallons of beer on a hot day, someone who built up his intake gradually over decades could probably handle 10 liters.

Whatever the truth about his training and nutrition was, he certainly was a badass. All the major European wrestlers challenged by Gama bitched out of the contest, and the one who gallantly accepted (Zbysko) was defeated in considerably under a minute, if I recall correctly.
 
For me it comes down to asking, how are you going to tell me about something you don't know? In his book he talks about wrestling once with them and he got thrown pretty quick--ok but in order to truly understand their world view you have to get in the pit with them. It's like this--yesterday a young, skinny guy at the gym starts telling me that quarter squats are good for working "the top of the muscle" and he knew this because he was a "certified personal trainer". He ended up doing his partial reps with 135 whereas I was training full reps with 365.

With Dr. Alter's book, it was so ivory tower-ish that I couldn't even finish it. I had to tap out rather early after he tried to explain to people that wrestlers relieving themselves prior to training was a "socio-somatic ritual" and it only got more cheezy from there.
 

adam27roswell

New member
For me it comes down to asking, how are you going to tell me about something you don't know?

Completely agree with this statement of yours Chris. No one can tell how deep the ocean is, till he takes the plunge.
I know there are some old akhadas in city of Benaras even today, where they follow what was taught the old time stuff. Mybe someday you might just want to try em out. They call it "Zor Azmaaish" or test of strength.
Personally, I don't think Mr Altar has done justice to what Gama was really capable of, except of record the historical events. He was no wrestler and he couldn't really have judged Gama on how he worked out or how fast he was or how strong he was. It still means to be tested.

But below is a article from Times Of India (India's largest selling newspaper) talking about how they've kept a 1200 kg stone that he single handedly lifted.

Or I would invite you to read through the following links. They are excerpts from a book with pics of wrestlers in India like devi domb.

http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/India/IndianClubs/clubs01.htm

although they don't give u a complete breakdown of their eating and workout habits. Only their tools and how to use them. Its my sincere effort that I'm able to give a little insight what these men of steel will were capable.

Frankly speaking..... irrespective of cast, creed or culture the Will to endure, Determination and the passion to excel is the same all across the world.
 

Wild Pegasus

New member
Wild Pegasus please allow me to dissuade from your point of view. if you're assuming Professional wrestling to be the one that is practiced today in WWE or in Olympics, it's not the same.

It's close enough. It was a work even then, no matter how genuinely tougher the wrestlers might have been then.

Like I said on my post above, these are not myths, but actual facts recorded by historians who were live witness. Unfotunately there were no video cameras to record the feats of strength.

Great Gama carried a 1200kg stone? Drank 5 gallons of milk every day? Ate 20 chickens? Bullshit. No doubt the man was strong and a fine wrestler, but that doesn't mean you should buy the pro wrestling hype machine. And I hasten to add that I like pro wrestling.
 

Rich in Nor Cal

New member
It's close enough. It was a work even then, no matter how genuinely tougher the wrestlers might have been then.



Great Gama carried a 1200kg stone? Drank 5 gallons of milk every day? Ate 20 chickens? Bullshit. No doubt the man was strong and a fine wrestler, but that doesn't mean you should buy the pro wrestling hype machine. And I hasten to add that I like pro wrestling.
At this distance in time from the truth of what he did or didn't do, it's hard to be sure of what was true, what was exaggerated, and what was apocryphal. Here's a few observations on possible explanations.

First, lifting a 1200kg stone is a little beyond what anatomists believe the structural limits of the human skeleton will allow. Surely he may have had more structural strength due to his diet and exercise regimen from a young age, so I don't say it is impossible. But it may be possible that he pushed the stone around for training, as pushing strength, driving from the hips, is so important to a wrestler, it would have given him tremendous power, and that the story got exaggerated from pushing to lifting.

Second, as far as the milk goes, it might have been a one-time or occasional feat he performed, though two or three gallons could easily be a daily intake. As far as the chickens go, first, they were no doubt not the heavy hybrid chickens we buy at the supermarkets, but were common young roosters of the Punjab, probably smaller than Cornish game hens are today, and he probably only ate certain parts of them, like breasts and livers, so it is at most maybe 2 or 3 kilograms of meat, perhaps less. Modern American football linemen easily eat that much daily in training.

Third, pro wrestling in the Great Gama's day was nothing like WWE stuff, either the style or the hype. It was merely called "pro" becuase it was done for money, like UFC MMA today.
 

HomeWorkouts

New member
Their seems to be a lot of people vouching for this guy that has passed on, so he can't really get anything out of it. If those statements are true that is just crazy, but throughout history their have always been people that perform great feats of strength and endurance. Either it's fun and inspiring to here about. Gives me some motivation to keep increasing my weight and reps.
 
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