WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

A: Rashid Anwar

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Rashid Anwar holds a unique place in wrestling history. He began wrestling for money in 1936, shortly after he had competed in the 1936 Olympic Games, eliminated in the second round. Two years earlier he had won a bronze medal in the Empire Games. This achievement alone gives a special place in India's sporting history. His bronze medal, in the welterweight division, was the first Empire Games medal to be won by an Indian competitor.  

At the time Rashid  was working as a railway official in Lucknow. the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. Rashid and a student from Lahore, Ajaib Singh,  were the first two Indian wrestlers to compete overseas in a prestigious international tournament.

Our wrestling promoters claimed that he had been welterweight champion of India on no fewer than eight occasions but we have no way of verifying this. Following competition in the 1936 Olympics we find him wrestling  professionally at Doncaster in November of that year, conceding weight but much the cleverer wrestler as he defeated Al Fuller. Skill was in evidence again, in march, 1937, when he was said to be faster and smarter than British middleweight champion Billy Riley. Anwar was leading Riley by one fall when the Wigan man was disqualified for deliberate fouling, "The crowd roared appreciaition of the Indian's victory."  

Newspapers consistently report a very fast, skilled technical wrestler with opponents that included most of the top welterweights and middleweights of the time, Harold Angus, Jules Kiki, Norman Morrell and Billy Riley amongst them. A report of a contest against Olympian Norman Morrell, recorded: "The contrast in styles of Norman Morrell and Rashid Anwar was very marked, but the craft of the Indian overcame the steadiness of Morrell by the odd fall."  His speciality manouvre was described as a "Swinging Boston Crab" from which it was said few men could escape.

Working as an ambulance driver during the war he seems to have disappeared from our rings in 1941. Rashid returned to the ring in 1957, initially for Joint Promotions and the following year moving to the independents. Now with increased poundage opponents included the likes of Arthur Fisher, Warnier Zarzecki, and Ted Beech. Our final sighting came in January, 1959, putting out for the count in the third round the Teutonic Terror, Hans Streiger. What a way to go out.

Rashid Anwar continued to live in London post war until his death. Born 12th April, 1910, he died in Camden, aged 73, in 1983.

Page added: 15/12/2020