Wrestler & Strongman of 20th Century from India
Having read stories of so many wrestlers of yesteryears who were lucky to be patronized by princely states and achieved worldwide fame and recognition in their times, there was one strongman who was not associated with any of these states. Mention of Jat wrestlers started with the famous wrestler Guru Hanuman, but we have little knowledge about other wrestlers of our area in the 1900’s to 1940’s.
One such powerful wrestler and strongman whose name is still famous in rural Haryana but unkonwn to rest of the world, was Ch. RatiRam Malik (चौधरी रतीराम मलिक) or nick-named Rattia Mhaal (रतिया महाल) (in Haryanvi lanaguage, Mhaal means a great wrestler,PAHELWANOO KA PAHELWAN) who was born and lived in village Nangal Kheri or Gadi (Siva Gadi) near the city of Panipat.
Born in 1900 or 1901, this man was 6.3- 6.4 inches in height and was a true specimen of human muscle power akin to strength of bears. He was chiseled and muscular with big heavy bones and didn’t had the usual heavy protruding belly of heavyweight wrestler . His exercise routine sometimes included thousands of baithaks at one go and the next day would be for similar number of dands, besides these to gain strength in doing his baithaks, he carried two men on his shoulders. His strength can be measured with a barometer in the form of an old Girdi (a piece of heavy, round stone, used for crushing limestone and also for agricultural purposes). This stone usualy weighs around 300 to 350 kgs and he lifted it when he was in his sixties (old age). One can imagine his strength in the prime of his youth,this girdi or roller is still present in his native village.
It is very difficult to lift this type of roller as there is no place to grip it, the only option is to use one’s own strength to hug it and lift it on the shoulders which Ratia Mhaal had - and it is a testimony to his massive strength which is justified in the form of that roller.
Old folk tell how Ratia pahelwan once pulled a full grown male buffalo from a village well single handedly tied with a rope , and once while he was having his food in the fields a full grown donkey started honking near him he tried to shoo him away but the ass didn't pay heed so he caught hold of the ass with one of its legs and threw it away like a pillow. People said he caught a full grown powerful male buffalo tied with a rope to its neck and the male buffalo was made to run. It wouldn't move against the strength of Ratia Mhaal such was his enormous strength. Once, at the time of Ratia Mhaals older days in his 70's, a man tried to check his famous strength, he purposefully filled his bullock cart with sugar cane which everybody claimed was nearly 700 to 800 kgs and got it stuck in a drain and asked for Ratia Mhaals help. Ratia Mhaal took his shoulders under the bullock cart and asked the driver to move the cart forwards with the bullocks help but instead of making the cart go forward, the man tried to take the cart backwards with the bullock's help but little did he imagine about Ratia Mhaals enormous strength that the whole bullock cart, along with load and the bullock went, rolling forwards from the ditch .Hence we can imagine how strong he would have been in his younger days it is unbelievable.
In wrestling, Rati Ram Malik used to throw his opponents in matter of seconds. With no disrespect to some famous pahelwans of that era who were lucky to get the patronage of the royal states like Patiala and got the fame by travelling around the world guided by their patrons, it was their good fortune that Ratia Mhaal remained famous only around the region of present-day Haryana and that too, on the G.T Road belt. Haryana region did not have a princely state in those times to give guidance far and wide corners. Once this famous wrestler was spotted by a British Officer while he was on a hunting expedition, he took Ratia Mhaal (who was a 20 year old then) and told him to join British Army and train as pahelwan and that he would give him all the support to train as he saw his emormous strength . But his mother brought him back saying he was their only son and if something happened to him who would look after their vast lands? If he had taken this opportunity for a bigger stage, he would have got the fame he deserved .
Older folk in the village Nangal Kheri say they didn't know much about Gama Pahelwan and other big wrestling names as there were no means to get such news in that era as it was a backward area in those times. Moreover, there was nobody to guide RatiRam as his elder brother had an untimely death who was equally strong and wanted to make his younger brother RatiRam a wrestler. Ratia Mhaal was between 18 to 22 when his elder brother died.
According to older folks, once in a wresting competiton in a nearby annual fare, a famous Muslim wrestler from Uttar Pradesh, who was around 6.9 feet in height and had super strength to tear people apart, challenged all Jats of the area. Ratia Mhaal heard of his challenge and came walking the entire night from a far off place and during the wrestling bout, picked up the Muslim wrestler from his feet and hurled him towards a tree, like a doll. At this moment, the giant wrestler was terrified and started trembling. Reportedly, out of fear, he fell at Ratia Mhaal's feet and begged for his life and vowed never to use such egoist language in his lifetime.
The people in these areas claim that this handsome and powerfull pahelwan called RATIA MHAAL was one of the most powerful pahelwan of his times. Old folk say he ran terror in opponents’ eyes and shiver around there spines when he caught opponents by their waists and hurled them over as even the heaviest of wrestlers can be no more than 200kgs whereas Ratia Mhaal hugged that girdi or roller of over 300kgs in his sixties i.e his older days so we can imagine his strength in youth. His ankles were reportedly were around four to five inches wide.
He said Rati Ram Pahelwan's pyre needed four times the wood of a normal well-built man as he had massively wide and heavy bones but even at the age of 85, he had a stout and strong muscular body without any signs of fat compared to people of his age. The people who saw the strong man at the time of his funeral, tell that people were worried that his pyre would require four times wood needed for an ordinary well built man. It is unfortunate that this powerful man remained hidden from the pages of Indian wrestling history because of the remoteness of the area and the indifference shown by the man himself to become a full time wrestler.
Rati Ram Malik’s village Nangal Kheri (Siva Gadi) is adjacent to National Fertiliser Limited near Panipat The 300-kg odd concreate roller (GIRDI) is still lying there, a proof of the strength of the strongman of yesteryears, unknown to the rest of the world. We should thank the princely states who gave support to Indian wrestlers of yesteryears and gained fame with their help. These wrestlers were patronized by princely states who looked after there dietary needs but with independence in our country this system got dissolved and governments did not pay heed to our sporting and wrestling legacy. Ch RatiRam Malik was not associated with any princely state and led his life his way.
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