Sher Mirbahar – World Champion of ‘Malh’, traditional Sindhi wrestling

Book Review

The Molai Publication of Mahrabpur town of Sindh has published a book on the life and achievements of Sher Mirbahar, a Malh Pahalwan (The Wrestler) of Sindh who earned fame at world level during the 1960s. The book is compilation of articles written by historians, scholars and several literary figures of Sindh, who have not only highlighted the life journey and the success stories of Sher Mirbahar but also traced the history of ‘Malh’, the traditional Sindhi wrestling.

Born on June 21, 1924, Sher Mirbahar, resident of Village Hisbani, Taluka Kandiaro of Naushehro Feroze district, developed fondness for Malh during visits to the festivals, where holding of ‘Malakhrro’, the Sindhi wrestling bouts, was a tradition since centuries. And since the Sher Mirbahar had a strong body, he started taking part in such events locally as amateur player.

Son of a Forest Officer Ali Muhammad Mirbahar, he never wanted to become an officer as his father had desired, and focused on learning the tactics of Malh, first from his uncle Peeral Khan Mirbahar and then from Luqman Khan Khushik, a Malh Pahlwan of Taluka Kandiaro, Ismail Burdi and others.

The first contest he won, was at the annual festival of ‘Pir jhangli Shah’ near Muhabat Dero Jatoi, where he defeated the opponent of his age. And soon Sher Mirbahar became a known wrestler by clinching positions at Malakhras not only in (Then) Khairpur State but across Sindh.

Sher Mirbahar became famous at Pakistan level when he played at Faiz Mahal Khairpur in 1951, where Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur-II had organized the Malakhrro in the honor of then Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, his wife Begum rana Liaquat and Gen. Ayub Khan. He received applause from them by defeating famous Pahlwans of the time – Anb Sheedi, Hosho Sheedi and Handle Makrani.

In 1962, the Makhdoom’s of Hala organized Malakhro with participation of a world famous wrestler George Zebsco of Czechoslovakia. Sher Mirbahar earned the title of ‘Rustam-e-Sindh’ when he defeated the Czech wrestler. Again, in 1966, he defeated Indian wrestler Gurnam Singh at Niaz Stadium Hyderabad. He also won the bout in Karachi defeating the Australian wrestler W. Austin.

When the famous Bholoo Pahlwan of Punjab challenged Sher Mirbahar at a Malakhro in Mirpur Khas, he asked him to first encounter with his juniors. Bholoo was defeated by a junior Pahlwan of Sher Mirbahar, and then he never challenged the wrestlers of Sindh. Sher Mirbahar also earned recognition during several contests in Punjab.

According to the book, Sher Mirbahar had joined Pakistan People’s Party in 1967 and fully supported Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In 1974, then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had appointed Sher Mirbahar as National Coach for the Pahlwans. He passed away on March 28, 1985.

The book would prove to be a good source of information for the researchers on history of Malh, Malakhrro and the Pahlwans of Sindh in general and Sher Mirbahar in particular.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *