The 1949 wrestling match
Bholu Pahalwan vs Younus Gujranwalia
by Farid Azam

After the Partition of India in 1947, the Gama wrestling family became part of Pakistan. Within a few months of the creation of Pakistan Bholu defeated Hussain Daftari and Ghulam Ghaus. During those days, another wrestler in the person of Younus Pahalwan of Gujranwala was trouncing all opposition and came face to face with the Great Gama's successor — The Bholu Pahalwan. This match created tremendous interest because the winner would be recognized as the first official champion of the new area. On 11th April 1948, Bholu Pahalwan had his first match with Younus Gujranwalia at Minto Park in Lahore. It could have been anyone's match as younus matched Bholu in all departments except speed. Bholu fought Younus at the Minto Park in Lahore. The winner would be recognized as champion of the new area. It could have been anyone's match because both wrestlers matched each other in all departments. Except that Bholu was more speedier then Younus. According to the eyewitnesses this Lahore match was a seat gripping brawl. Both wrestlers fought swiftly displaying quick reflexes, changing holds and applying maneuvers every moment. Bholu's performance was clearly excellent. After a terrific struggle that lasted 47 minutes, Bholu managed to pin the shoulders of his highly skilled adversary. He won the match but after this 1948 match, due to certain reasons, Younus refused to accept defeat and public demanded a rematch therefore in 1949, the Pakistani authorities organized a nation wide tournament to determine the official champion.

This wrestling match was fought between Younus Pahalwan and Bholu Pahalwan for the 1949 Pakistani Championship. Younus Pahalwan a.k.a Younus Gujranwalia (Sitara-e-Pakistan) came from Gujranwala city" The land of the wrestling Giants ". He stood 6 feet tall and weighed above 400 pounds. While the Bholu Pahalwan belonged to Gama Wrestling Family " The house of ultimate wrestlers ". He stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed around 385 lbs., with a chest of 56" and thighs which measure 36". This wrestling match was for the nomination of Rustam-e-Pakistan was fought on April 1949 in Polo Ground, Karachi, Pakistan. This was the highest wrestling honor of Pakistan, which was awarded to the best wrestler within the country. During those earlier days, Pakistan was considered one of the wrestling strongholds in the world, and the wrestling standard was very high. Therefore during those days, the Pakistani champion was rated equivalent to a world champion of the west. This bout was a National Extravaganza on the State Level. An absolute pickout of the greatest wrestler in the country. But for a layman on the street this was the Clash of the Behemoths.

More then 50 wrestlers from all parts of the country participated. A temporary mud-wrestling arena was built at the Polo Ground in Karachi for these wrestlers to test their skills. After a few months time Bholu and Younus were the only two to survive and once again faced each other. These two closely matched Giants clashed in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 17th 1949, for the first official championship title. A crowd of more then 100,000 spectators came from all parts of Pakistan to witness this grand finale for the Pakistani championship. Many of them arrived a week or two ahead in order to get good seats. Interest such as this was rarely seen in other parts of the world. The Chief Guest of the event Governor General of Pakistan, Khawaja Nazimuddin was himself present to award the Championship Mace to the winner of this historic bout. The Chief Guest arrived at 17.00 Hours and after a brief handshake with wrestlers the chief guest settle down at the front row of the VIP enclosure. Seated alongside with the Chief Guest were several important personalities including the Great Gama, his brother Imam Bux and Hamida Pahalwan.

The historical title match began around 17.30 Hrs. Major General Akbar Khan was the referee of this contest. According to the eyewitnesses Bholu dived into the arena like a lion. He was followed by a rather confident Younus Gujanwalia. The two mighty men entered the ring and came face to face with each other. They started walking around each other in circles . They circled each other warily for a minute or two, looking for an opportunity to break in. And then suddenly they were locked in a fierce battle. Both of them charged head on into each other with maximum thrust. They collided with a thud. Both wrestlers pushed against each other for a moment until both were consequently thrown backward with their own force. Simultaneously both of them immediately regained equilibrium and rushed again smashing into each other with ferocious intensity " like they were brick walls". They pushed against each other with great strength again but soon repelled backward. This collision occurred a number of times before finally Bholu found an opportunity and took the offensive. He grabbed Younus around his waistline and applied a bear hug (wrestling hold). And after a few seconds Bholu attempted to throw younus off balance. But Younus blocked the move and broke the momentum using his bodyweight as an advantage. Bholu was unable to topple the Gujranwala Giant to the ground. Younus immediately tried to break out of Bholu’s wrestling hold around his waistline. Bholu sensed the upcoming situation and within a second reversed his maneuver. He applied the bearhug on Younus from behind. Again he tried to hoist Younus in order to throw him off to the ground, but Younus broke the lifting motion using his bodyweight as an advantage. And then simultaneously tried to overthrow Bholu Pahalwan to the ground but did not quite succeeded as Bholu used his stocky leg as a leverage to break the momentum of jerk delivered by Younus. Neither of them intended to waste any time or strength on the other. Each was out to flatten the other as quickly and efficiently as possible. The most important title in the country was at stake - a truly historic title. Because it was the first time it had ever been contested.

Bholu did not weaken his grip of Younus. Younus toiled under Bholu’s tremendous pressure for a moment or two. He tried to force out and break free of Bholu's hold. But Bholu was magnificent and had taken the offensive from the very start, forcing the pace. He grabbed the wrestling trunks of Younus Pahalwan and tried to pull him down to the muddy floor in order to overthrow him. Younus tried to free his trunk but Bholu delivered a low blow kick to the legs of Younus Pahalwan, as a leverage to throw him off balance or take him down. Younus countered but was so busy protecting himself that he couldn't launch an offensive of his own. He was struggling to break out of Bholu’s grip on his wrestling trunk and so he lost his balance and went down in a revolving motion and landed face first into the ground. Bholu did not loosen his grip and went down with him, landing directly on top of him. Younus struggled to reverse the situation while Bholu tried to pin his opponent using his wrestling trunk as a leverage. As a result all pressure shifted on the wrestling trunks of Younus, due to which the strap of the wrestler breeches broke away causing the trunk to loosen its grip on the waistline of Younus Pahalwan. Bholu sited the situation and rapidly changed the maneuver. He griped Younus through his waistline trying to overturn him in order to obtain a pin fall. The referee sited the awkward situation. He saw the wrestling trunks of Younus Pahalwan losing grip and slipping away. He immediately signaled both wrestlers to stop the wrestling match to allow Younus to change and get properly dressed up again. Bholu became annoyed by referee’s interference and battered Younus with several hand blows on his head and face before finally letting him go. However the referee stopped the match after 6 minutes of action to maintain discipline of the wrestling arena. It took 8 minutes for the Younus Pahalwan to change his wrestling trunk. As per wrestling rules and procedure both wrestlers regained their previous position before starting the match again. Younus took a previous position on the floor. Bholu regained his wrestling hold around the waist of Younus Pahalwan.
The match began with both wrestlers toiling on the floor, one above the other with their heads facing north. Bholu’s hold was basically a bearhug from behind with Younus struggling and facing the ground. Younus tried to overturn Bholu in order to reverse the situation. But Bholu swiftly changed the position of the hold and retained his grip again. Consequently both wrestlers now faced the opposite directions with one wrestler heading the north and the other heading south. Bholu retained his grip on Younus throughout the match. A greco roman maneuver that takes a lot of oxygen out of the body. He toiled to squeeze the life out of Younus and simultaneously tried to lift the 400 pound Younus and slam him in the opposite direction. But he didn’t succeed as Younus was tough enough to retain his grip on the floor and avoid a pinfall. Bholu was trying to wear down his opponent. The match continued for another 2 minutes. Younus tried to break out of the Bholu's hold but failed. The more he tried to set himself free, the more he succumbed into the monstrous grip of Bholu Pahalwan. His grip tightened around Younus Pahalwan. And after 2 minutes of further struggle, Bholu succeeded in turning the Younus shoulders to the floor. He tried to obtain a pin fall while Younus tried to escape defeat, trying to form a wrestler’s bridge. But failed abruptly and ended up under Bholu’s tremendous pressure losing the championship match. Bholu defeated Younus Pahalwan of Gujranwala City in 15 minutes. But the actual time of the bout was 8 minutes excluding the time out given by the referee during the match. This was the longest match of Bholu's career on record and the longest duration any Indian wrestler had been able to stand up against Bholu up till now. Bholu won Rustam-e-Pakistan title. The Governor General of Pakistan Khawaja Nazimuddin presented Bholu with a Championship Mace, which represents Rustam-e-Pakistan title.