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Gama The World Champion: Wrestling and Physical Culture in Colonial India – Iron Game History – October, 1995

Around the turn of the century in colonial India there was a loosely formulated, but nevertheless dramatic concern among India’s growing middle-class with the articulation of an ideal of indigenous masculinity, and with the embodiment of that ideal in the population at large. In many parts of the country groups of men established local akharas (gymnasiums) for the propagation of indigenous martial arts, physical fitness programs, and wrestling in particular. In this paper I will examine some of the
features of this “modern tradition” through a study of Gama, the early twentieth-century world champion, and a number of his nationally ranked compatriots.