Indian sports history has witnessed some of the greatest moments prior to Independence. Indians have proved their knack in various genres. On the occasion of India’s 75th Independence Day, we pay tribute to some of the glorious Indian Sporting moments pre-independence.
India’s Olympic Debut and medal win (1900)
India’s debut in Olympic Games came in the year 1900. The 1900 Paris Olympics became memorable in the Indian sport’s history. The brilliance of Norman Gilbert Pritchard, a British-Indian athlete presented India as a winner on the global stage.
He showed his athletic abilities in five competitions and added his name to the Olympic medal tally in silver colours. He earned the maiden silver medals in 200m sprint and 200m hurdle events. Pritchard also became the first Asian-born athlete to win Olympic medals for the nation.
Great Gama’s Fight (1910)
Ghulam Mohammad Baksh, aka the Great Gama, was a prominent wrestler of the British Indian Empire. The combat stints specialist, Bruce Lee use to follow his exercise routines and considered him as an inspiration.
Gama was the ultimate winner of the John Bull World Championships. He emerged victorious after a long and fierce wrestling bout with Polish wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko. On the other hand, he was also known for his humanity over communism when he saved thousands of people during the attacks in between religious mobs.
Mohun Bagan’s Glory (1911)
Although cricket has been the most popular sport in India by far, football achievements by India prior to independence was something special. The unforgettable victorious performance by the barefoot Bengali boys of Mohun Bagan in 1911 is one of the greatest moments in Indian sports history.
Surprisingly, these Indian footballers defeated the well-equipped East Yorkshire Regiment team at the breathtaking final match barefoot. They acquired the immortal eleven title when they became the first Indian team to win the IFA Shield Tournament.
Phadeppa’s Marathon (1920)
One of the glorious Indian Sporting moments Pre-Independence came when India’s Marathon man Phadeppa Dareppa Chaugule finished in19th position in the 1920 Olympic Marathon at 2:50:45.2s. He was a part of the first Indian troop sent for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. He became the inspiration for every Indian athlete and also became the first Indian ever to compete in the prestigious marathon.
Start of Indian Hockey dominance (1928)
The rise of Indian hockey saw the emerging of the star Major Dhyan Chand, who will also go down as one of the sporting legends in Indian history. The Indian National Hockey Team attained much prominence for its consecutive gold victories in the Olympic Games of 1928, 1932, and 1936.
The team created history when they continued their winning streak up to 30-0 till 1960. India was also the first Non-European to become a part of the International Hockey Federation.
East Bengal’s Emblem (1930)
Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagrah was at its peak in the mid-90s. Meanwhile, the prominent Calcutta Football League was declared in favour of the Royal Regiment in the first division. Whereas, East Bengal were left out and were not promoted to the rank. As a result, the East Bengal fans and officials went on for a protest march on the East Bengal field with flaming torches.
These torches, known as “Mashals”, gave an epic idea to the officials of making it the club’s emblem. Even today, this Mashal is still there as the club emblem. It is the remembrance of the historic protest even in lack of democratic rights and constitutions, for fair judgment in sports.
India’s debut in Test match cricket (1932)
Cricket is one of the most worshipped sports in India. It would be a crime not to regard India’s Test debut as one of the glorious Indian sporting moments pre-independence. In 1932 on 25th June India had its first Test match at the Lord’s Ground. Moreover, they became the sixth country to attain the Test status. C.K. Naidu led the first Indian Test team. Although they failed to lift the trophy, they left a mark that will further act as an inspiration for the future generation to achieve success in cricket.