Hamida Banu, India’s pioneering wrestler, is one the trailblazers whose remarkable journey continues to inspire generations. In the realm of sports, there are figures whose legacies transcend the boundaries of their time. Let’s delve into the life and achievements of Hamida Banu, India’s pioneering wrestler.


Hamida Banu – The woman who paved the way for female wrestlers in India. In an era when women’s participation in sports was heavily restricted, she fearlessly stepped into the arena, shattering stereotypes and carving her path to glory.

Family Legacy
Banu (wearing a pink shirt) with some of her family members

Raised in a wrestling family, Hamida’s passion for the sport was ignited at a young age. Surrounded by the sounds of grapples and cheers, she found her calling amidst the dusty wrestling pits of her hometown.

Breaking Barriers

In a time when women were discouraged from participating in sports, let alone wrestling, Hamida Banu dared to defy conventions. With unparalleled determination, she stepped into the ring, challenging societal norms and competing against men in an era of social disapproval.

Over 300 Victories

Hamida Banu’s dominance knew no bounds as she racked up an impressive tally of victories. With sheer determination and unwavering focus, she conquered opponents with ease, emerging victorious in over 300 matches and establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with.

Enormous Popularity
A 1954 newspaper report on Banu's match against Baba Pahalwan

In the 1940s and 1950s, Hamida Banu became a household name as the first professional woman wrestler in India. Her fame soared after she defeated the legendary wrestler, Baba Pahalwan, in a match that lasted just 1 minute and 34 seconds. Despite her soaring popularity, Hamida retired from wrestling shortly after this victory. The real reason behind her sudden departure from the sport remains a mystery to this day.

Beat Her to Marry

In a bold display of confidence and defiance, Hamida Banu issued a unique challenge to suitors vying for her hand in marriage. Only the man who could defeat her in the wrestling arena would earn the privilege of becoming her husband, a testament to her unwavering commitment to her passion and independence.

The "Amazon of Aligarh"

With her indomitable spirit and formidable skills, Hamida Banu earned fame and recognition throughout the region. Her towering presence and unmatched prowess in the arena earned her the title of the “Amazon of Aligarh,” a moniker that encapsulated her strength and resilience.

Global Recognition

Hamida Banu’s remarkable feats transcended the confines of her homeland, garnering international attention and admiration. Her unparalleled skills and groundbreaking achievements brought her recognition on the global stage, cementing her status as a true icon of the wrestling world.

Left Everything Behind

After stepping away from wrestling, Hamida Banu retreated from the public eye, leaving much of her personal life shrouded in mystery. Reports suggest that her coach, Salam Pahalwan, strongly opposed her decision to pursue opportunities in Europe. This disapproval deeply affected Hamida, leading her to abandon her wrestling career and withdraw from the spotlight. According to various media sources, she made a living by selling milk and renting out properties.

A Legacy of Inspiration

Hamida Banu’s legacy extends far beyond the wrestling mat, serving as a beacon of inspiration for future generations of female athletes. Her courage, resilience, and trailblazing spirit paved the way for countless women to pursue their dreams in the world of sports, leaving an indelible mark on history.

Honoured by Google

In a fitting tribute to her enduring legacy, Google honoured Hamida Banu with a special Doodle in 2024. This gesture served as a poignant reminder of her contributions to the world of sports and her enduring impact on the lives of countless individuals across the globe.

In conclusion, Hamida Banu’s journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and resilience in overcoming adversity and achieving greatness. Her story continues to inspire and empower generations, reminding us all that with courage and determination, anything is possible.

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