Who Was The First Indian Female Wrestler?

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first Indian female wrestler

The first Indian female wrestler was commemorated by Google Doodle on 4th May with an illustrious doodle and with a message –   “Hamida Banu was a trailblazer of her time, and her fearlessness is remembered throughout India and across the world. Outside of her sporting accomplishments, she will always be celebrated for staying true to herself.” On this day in 1954, Hamida Banu gained global recognition for her wrestling victory which lasted a mere 1 minute and 34 seconds. She managed to defeat Baba Pahalwan, a renowned wrestler. After losing to Hamida Banu, Baba Pahalwan decided to retire from professional wrestling. Lets us get to know more about the first Indian female wrestler.

Credits- BBC

Who Was Hamida Banu?

Hamida Banu is also known as the “Amazon of Aligarh” and was the first professional female wrestler in India. She came from a family with a wrestling background and hence, developed her interest in getting inside the rings. 

Despite facing opposition from her family who disapproved of her desire to pursue a career in wrestling, she journeyed from her hometown of Mirzapur to Aligarh, where she trained under the tutelage of Salam Pahalwan who also was a famous and skilled wrestler. 

At a time when wrestling was considered a traditionally male-dominated profession, Banu was an imposing figure with a strong physique and a do-or-die attitude and carried on an unwavering sense of confidence. 

According to a BBC report, she weighed 17 stone (108kg) and stood at 5ft 3in (1.6m). Her routine diet was comprised of 5.6 litres of milk, 2.8 litres of soup, 1.8 litres of fruit juice, a fowl, nearly 1kg of mutton and almonds, half a kilo of butter, 6 eggs, two large loaves of bread, and two plates of biryani.

Also Read – Who Was The First Woman IPS Officer?

Hamida Banu’s Career

During her career in the 1940s and 1950s, she went on with a victory in nearly 300 competitions. She even defeated the leading wrestler of Russia, Vera Chistilin (“Female Bear) in 1954, in less than a minute in an event held in Mumbai.

As per a BBC report, she was wedded to her mentor Salam Pahalwan, who strongly advised her against travelling to Europe and broadening her horizons. Banu’s grandson, Feroz Shaikh, alleged that he used to physically assault her, even breaking her hands, in an attempt to dissuade her from travelling to Europe. Banu gradually lost interest in wrestling after 1954 and soon disappeared from public view. 

Hamida Banu
Credits – BBC

In her last years, she earned her bread and butter by selling milk and dairy products, eventually, she died in 1986.

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This is all about the first Indian female wrestler. For more content related to the different states of India, visit our articles like this, you can get Study notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

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