Akram Pahalwan

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Akram Pahalwan
Born 1930[1]
Amritsar, Punjab, India

April 12, 1987 (aged 57)

Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Akram Pahalwan
Iki Pehlwan
Billed height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Billed weight 220 lb (100 kg; 16 st)
Trained by The Great Gama
Debut 1953
Retired December 12, 1976

Akram Pahalwan (born 1930), also known as Iki Pehlwan was a well-known Pakistani wrestler and a part of the Bholu Brothers Tag Team in professional wrestling during the late 1960s. He fought most of his wrestling matches with foreign wrestlers in distant countries and also within Pakistan. Some of his well known opponents include Haji Afzal (1963), George Gordienko (1967), Anton Geesink (1968) and Antonio Inoki (1976).


Akram was initially trained in Lahore as a student of the Great Gama. Akram actually started his professional wrestling career in 1953 as he wrestled the Ugandan and Kenyan wrestlers in East Africa. He also defeated Akram defeated the leading wrestler Mahindar Singh in Nairobi, capital of Kenya through a submission hold. The Mahinder Singh’s elder brother was the referee of that match. The East African public named him “The Lion” when he defeated the gigantic warriors of Kampala including the Ugandan Champion Idi Amin. Soon after this match he and Idi Amin became friends.

Akram's Pakistani opponents include Imam Baksh Ferozwala. Jero Pahalwan, Sheeda Gujanwalia, Goma, Hamida Ghaia Wala, Suleman and Sheeda Popat. He defeated Siddique son of Goonga Pahalwan in Sialkot, Bakhshu Pahalwan in Jampur, Mushtaq Pahalwan in Multan, Nazu Pahalwan in Bahawalpur, Gurda Pahalwan in Multan. The tremendous Bhola Gadi in Lahore. Rustam-e-Multan, Zamman Khan in Karachi. And one of the leading wrestlers known as Haji Muhammad Afzal in Lahore. The former Governor of Pakistan, Malik Amir Muhammad Khan was the Chief Guest of this event. The deputy superintendent Ghulam Hussain Butt was the referee.

In 1958, Akram was proclaimed the Champion of Malaya in Singapore when he defeated the wrestler Hari Ram. He received an expensive car as a reward for his achievements.

In 1965 Akram defeated Indian wrestler Hardam Singh at the National Stadium, Karachi in the third round. Akram's previous record shows that he participated in around 280 major wrestling events during the 50s. Some of which remained alive in the memories of people who watched him wrestle for a long time.

Beside that he also defeated Emil Koroshenko, Baron Von Heczey, Bloorma, King Kong (Emile Czaja) and others. While during the 60s Pahalwan also remained a part of the Bholu Brothers wrestling team. Some of the opponents of Akram during the 60s include Tony Kontellis, Con Papalazarou, Shaikh Wadi Ayoub, Bert Assirati etc. The Pakistani sporting arenas were regularly packed with up to 60,000 fans. He competed in freestyle wrestling during the 1960s. In 1967 he toured UK. The Bholu Brothers were rated 10th in the 1968 Tag Team world ratings.[2]

In 1968 Akram wrestled in Suriname, South America where he was beaten unconscious by the Dutch 10th-dan Judoka, three-time undefeated World Judo Champion (1961, 1964 and 1965) Anton Geesink. Later in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) he also injured his left arm in one of his match against Bill Verna of Australia.

In 1976, when the World Champion Japanese Wrestler, Antonio Inoki fought with the boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a mixed martial arts match to a draw. The Bholu brothers, that claimed to be the world champions, slated Akram to fight Inoki. However on the day of the match Inoki defeated Akram through a submission hold, chicken wing armlock. Although Akram didn't submit, but the referee stopped the match because Akram's left arm broke under the submission hold. However soon after this match the former Ugandan Champion, Idi Amin challenged Inoki, probably to avenge Akram's defeat. But due to some official reason the match never took place.

Akram's wrestling career ended in 1976 after his match with Inoki. He died on 12 April 1987.

In wrestling[edit]

  • Nicknames
    • Iki Pehalwan
    • The Lion