Google Doodle honors Hamida Banu, pioneer of women's wrestling in India

11:28 AM May 04, 2024 | PTI |

It was on this day in 1954 when Hamida Banu defeated famed wrestler Baba Pahalwan in just one minute and 34 seconds. While Baba Pahalwan deemed it fit to retire from professional wrestling, Banu’s career expanded to international arenas and her victories reported across the globe.


Commemorating Banu’s victory and to pay tribute to her as ”India’s first woman wrestler,” Google on Saturday put up a colourful doodle on its homepage. Born into a family of wrestlers in the early 1900s near Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, Banu grew up wrestling, winning over 300 competitions throughout her career that spanned the 1940s and 1950s at a time when women’s participation in athletics was strongly discouraged.

Banu, however, competed with men anyway, and issued an open challenge to all male wrestlers, wagering her hand in marriage to whoever defeats her, Google wrote in a post. Banu’s success in international matches gained her further acclaim. One of these matches was the one against Russian woman wrestler Vera Chistilin, who she defeated in under two minutes. Having made newspaper headlines for years, Banu came to be known as the ”Amazon of Aligarh”.

The bouts she won, her diet, and her training regimen were widely covered.

According to a BBC report, she weighed 108kg and was 5ft 3in tall. ”Her daily diet included 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 big loaves of bread, and two plates of biryani,” the British media outlet reported.


Reuters noted that she slept for nine hours and trained for six. A ”trailblazer of her time,” Banu not only fought fellow wrestlers but the norms of her times.

”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,” Google’s note read.


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