Amazon of Aligarh: Google Doodle tribute to India's first female wrestler Hamida Banu

On this day in 1954, Hamida Banu defeated famed male wrestler Baba Pahalwan in just one minute and 34 seconds

Google commemorates Hamida Banu by putting up a colourful doodle on its homepage (photo: google)
Google commemorates Hamida Banu by putting up a colourful doodle on its homepage (photo: google)


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 defeated her, Google wrote in a post.

Banu's success in international matches gained her further acclaim. One of these matches was 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', after the female warriors and hunters in Greek mythology known for their physical agility, strength, and combat skills.

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

According to a BBC report, she weighed 108 kg and was 5 ft 3 in tall. "Her daily diet included 5.6 litres of milk, 2.8 litres of soup, 1.8 litres of fruit juice, a fowl, nearly 1 kg 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, while Reuters noted that she slept for nine hours and trained for six.

A "trailblazer of her time," Banu not only fought fellow wrestlers but also contemporary norms.

"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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