Hamida Banu, the first professional female wrestler from India, is being honoured by Google today. Divya Negi, an illustrator from Bangalore, drew a picture of Ms. Banu surrounded by native plants and animals. It also remembers the first female athlete in a male-dominated sport in the 1940s and 1950s. The Google Doodle description said, “This Doodle honours Indian wrestler Hamida Banu, who is largely regarded as India’s first professional woman wrestler.” 

Hamida Banu was born in the early 1900s in the Uttar Pradesh region of Aligarh. She is regarded as the first female wrestler in India. Over the course of her career, which spanned the 1940s and 1950s, Ms. Banu won over 300 events.

Since Ms. Banu faced and defeated renowned wrestler Baba Pahalwan on this day in 1954, May 4 was selected as the day to honour her. After that, he gave up on professional wrestling.

“On this day in 1954, the wrestling match that earned Banu international recognition and acclaim was reported – she had defeated famed wrestler Baba Pahalwan, in just 1 minute and 34 seconds, after which the latter retired from professional wrestling,” Google stated in the doodle’s description. 

In the early 1900s, Hamida Banu was born into a family of wrestlers in the Uttar Pradesh region of Aligarh. She started wrestling during a period when social conventions largely prevented women from participating in sports. But she was “passionate and she competed with men anyway, issuing an open challenge to all male wrestlers and wagering her hand in marriage to the first to defeat her,” according to Google. 

The career of Ms. Banu even reached the international arena, where she defeated Russian female wrestler Vera Chistilin in under two minutes. “Her name appeared in newspaper headlines for years, and she became known as the “Amazon of Aligarh.”The bouts she won, her diet, and her training regimen were widely covered,” Google stated. 

As a trailblazer in her own right, Hamida Banu is revered in India and around the globe for her bravery. It said, “She will always be honoured for remaining true to herself, regardless of her sporting achievements.

Artist Divya Negi discussed her inspiration for today’s doodle, citing Hamida Banu’s struggle against prevailing traditional conventions. “While doing research for my doodling, I went into Hamida’s universe. Finding out that she battled valiantly against the traditional conventions of her era was encouraging. One of the hardest things to accomplish is to challenge groupthink, and being a woman makes it even more difficult. Nevertheless, Hamida persevered and triumphed,” she remarked.