Known for defeating nearly all his opponents, Ghulam Muhammad, popularly known as The Great Gama or Gama Pahalwan, is a known name in the world of wrestling. Dedicated to his birth and death anniversary—May 22—an exhibition has been organised in the city that showcases 800 photographs covering 150 years of wrestling, and more than 100 wrestlers, who gained name and fame between 1860 and 2016.
The exhibition is the brainchild of Ashokrao Jadhav, a wrestler himself, who wrestled from 1971-85. It is being organised by former deputy mayor Aba Bagul at Pt. Bhimsen Joshi Kaladalan in Sahakarnagar till May 20 from 8-11 am and 4-8 pm. The exhibition kicked off on Wednesday.
Jadhav, who bagged wrestling awards such as Talegaon Kesari in 1979 and a gold medal in the Kolhapur District Wrestling Championship in 1976, shares that he had been collecting the photographs since the last 40 years. He says that the aim behind holding the exhibition is to encourage upcoming wrestlers.
“I want young wrestlers to focus on training, techniques, diet and regime, just like the ones who wrestled in the olden days,” Jadhav said, adding that wrestling runs in his family and he picked up the sport when he was only 10 years old.
The exhibition not just showcases Indian wrestlers, but also international names from Poland, USA, New Zealand, London and others. Other than Gama Pahalwan, some famous wrestlers who feature in the exhibition include Raheem Baksh Sultani, Rustam-e-Hind Dara Singh, Vyankappa Burud, Kicker Singh, Kallu Pehelwan, Benjamin Roller, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Ganpat Andalkar Maruti, Devappa Dhangar and Malappa Tadakhe.
Collecting the photographs had been a daunting task, Jadhav shares. “Whenever anyone would tell me that I might find a photograph of a wrestler with someone, I would just head to meet that person irrespective of where he stayed. This way, I traveled across the country to collect photos. Assuming that not every person would be willing to part with the photo, I would take a photographer with me, who would click the photo of the original photograph,” he said.
The exhibition also displays newspaper clippings of reports related to wrestling between 1913 and 1940. The photographs also include those that were clicked during the Olympics in 1920, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1964 and 1972. Many Indian wrestlers featured in these Olympics too.
While Banda Patil and Mruti Mane Andarkar participated in the 1964 Olympics, it was Khashaba Jadhav who wrestled and won the Bronze at the 1952 Olympics. “In 1920, Dinkar Shinde and KP Nawale represented the country and in 1972, it was Harishchandra Birajdar and Maruti Adkar,” says Jadhav, who regards Birajdar as his role model in wrestling. “He had great stamina. Also, his attack and defencs techniques were equally strong,” he adds.