Google Honors India’s Pioneering Wrestler Hamida Banu

Celebrate India’s wrestling legend Hamida Banu, the first female pro wrestler! Defeated champions & broke barriers. See the Google Doodle!

Hamida Banu

On May 4th, 2024, Google donned its artistic gloves to celebrate a remarkable woman: Hamida Banu, India’s trailblazing female wrestler who carved her name in history during a time when the sport was a male-dominated domain. The Google Doodle, a special illustration that replaces the search engine’s logo for a day, depicted a determined Banu entering the wrestling ring, a testament to her unwavering spirit.

Born in the early 1900s near Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, Banu hailed from a family with a wrestling legacy. Surrounded by the sport from a young age, she defied societal norms and honed her skills, laying the foundation for an exceptional career spanning the 1940s and 1950s. In an era where women’s participation in athletics was discouraged, Banu’s passion for wrestling burned bright. Unafraid of challenges, she took on male wrestlers, issuing open invitations to compete and even wagering her hand in marriage against anyone who could defeat her.

Banu’s talent wasn’t merely bravado. She amassed an impressive record, winning over 320 matches throughout her career. Her exceptional strength and rigorous training regimen became legendary. News reports described her consuming a staggering amount of food daily to fuel her grueling training schedule, which included nine hours of sleep and six hours of intense practice.

One of her most celebrated victories came in 1954 when she defeated the renowned wrestler Baba Pahalwan in just 1 minute and 34 seconds, prompting his retirement from the sport. This wasn’t her only international triumph. Another famous bout saw her overpower Vera Chistilin, a formidable competitor nicknamed “Russia’s female bear,” in less than a minute.

Earning the moniker “The Amazon of Aligarh,” Banu’s victories resonated far beyond the wrestling ring. She became a symbol of women’s empowerment, defying stereotypes and paving the way for future generations of female athletes in India. Her story serves as an inspiration, demonstrating that dedication and talent can overcome societal barriers.

While the details surrounding the latter part of her life remain unclear, Hamida Banu’s legacy continues to inspire. The Google Doodle serves as a timely reminder of her pioneering spirit and the immense impact she had on the world of wrestling in India. It’s a tribute not just to her athletic prowess, but also to her unwavering determination in the face of adversity.

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