Kikkar Singh


School: Kaloowala
Height: 6’ 6”
Weight: 266-364 pounds

Born in a village near Lahore in 1857, Kikkar Singh was encouraged by his wrestling father to train in the tradition. After establishing himself as an upcoming pahelwan, he put himself under the tutelage of Boota Pahelwan, Rustum-i-Hind.

When Boota Pahelwan retired from the sport in the late 19th century, his gigantic Sikh pupil was acknowledged as champion. Kikkar Singh’s prodigious frame and Herculean strength soon became hallmarks sought after by the rulers of the princely states of Jodhpur, Indore, Datia, Tonk, and Jammu and Kashmir. His physique and strength were of such proportions that the Maharaja of Kashmir regarded him as an incarnation of Bhairav, the fierce form of Shiva. But with all his size, he wrestled with the nimbleness of a lion. Few competitors could match the strength and skill of this ‘Dev-i-Hind’ (demi-god of India).

Kikkar Singh’s greatest rival was Ghulam Pahelwan of Amritsar. They fought on several occasions, drawing huge crowds from all over Punjab to their epic bouts. After Ghulam’s death in 1900, his brother Kalloo, laid claim to his title, but Kikkar Singh stood in his way. Of the seven times they grappled, Kikkar Singh won four matches, lost two and drew their last, which took place during the Delhi Durbar celebrations held in December 1911 to commemorate King George V’s coronation. Kikkar Singh was challenged by his old rival, Kalloo. Although the Sikh was way past his prime (he had grown enormous: according to the referee, Brigadier General Charles Granville Bruce, his weight had ballooned from his prime weight of 19 stones or 266 pounds to 26 stones or 364 pounds) and had become a patient of asthma, he would not let a challenge go unanswered. When the match began, the two pahelwans were said to have circled the arena like two hungry lions. Kalloo brought Kikkar Singh to the ground but was fouled by the giant. On resuming the match Kalloo gave Kikkar Singh a thorough beating until the referee intervened and declared the match a draw.

Kikkar Singh died in 1914 at his native village where a ‘samadhi’ or memorial shrine was raised in his memory.

Kikkar Singh (right) poses with Labhu Lohar in a pre-match pose Born with the name Prem Singh, it is said that the name Kikkar Singh stuck after he once uprooted a ‘kikkar’ (acacia) tree with his bare hands. Others say that he earned his botanical name because of his height and dark complexion.

Kikkar Singh Pahelwan Apart from the brothers Ghulam and Kalloo, Kikkar Singh comfortably defeated all challengers. Gamu Baliwala, one of Ghulam’s most formidable opponents, met defeat at the hands of this giant wrestler as did a host of others of equal fame: Shah Nawaz, Channan Qasai of Lahore, Ditta, Qadir Butt of Multan and the huge Kala Partapa.

Kikkar Singh (right) pitted against his great rival, Ghulam Pahelwan A wall painting decorating the gateway of Village Jand in Ludhiana District, East Punjab. The Sikh wrestler’s uncommon strength was once tested by Maharajah Pertab Singh of Kashmir; the maharaja held a contest to see which of his wrestlers could hold the rods of a hand-cranked electrical generator (installed to treat a rela¬tive’s rheumatism) the longest time. Kikkar Singh was in Kashmir at that time preparing for the tournament to be held at Jammu. He was summoned and gladly took hold of the tubes. The current was opened to its full volume but there was not a sign of pain or agony on Kikkar Singh’s face; only a bead of perspiration could be seen on the gladiator’s forehead. When the current was stopped his palms were burned and thick layers of blisters were formed. For this feat he received the prize sum equivalent to £20. Later, his palms had become so tough that when he once smacked his rival, the Great Ghulam in their third bout, Ghulam let out a yell in pain and his cheek showed the mark for many years.

source by


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here