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Who won the first-ever Commonwealth Games medal for India?

The ace wrestler also worked as an ambulance driver during World War 2 after winning India's first medal in the Empire Games

Rashid Anwar

Indian wrestlers Rashid Anwar (left) and Ajaib Singh in a training bout at before the Empire Games 1934 (Source: Wikipedia)


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 19 Sep 2021 10:11 AM GMT

Just like KD Jadhav, Rashid Anwar also achieved wonders in wrestling for India. He became the first Indian to win a Commonwealth Games medal ever when he won a bronze in the 1934 Empire Games. His story is something that has been forgotten over time despite wrestling being a prominent medal source at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

Rashid Anwar was born on 12th April 1910. He initially worked in the Indian Railways as an official posted in Lucknow. His wrestling records have never been verified but it was claimed that he was the National Champion in the Welterweight category more than 8 times. Regardless of the verification, he was still identified as an ace wrestler and competed in international tournaments of repute.

India's first ever medal in the Commonwealth Games came when Rashid Anwar finished third in the freestyle welterweight category. He competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he was knocked out in the second round. He continued to compete with world champions in various tournaments after that. In the years prior to World War 2, Anwar defeated champion wrestlers such as Al Fuller and middleweight champion Billy Riley on their home turf.

Rashid Anwar (Source: Getty Images)

News reports in England were doing the rounds about a skilful Indian who was technically superior to his competitors. Famed Olympian and wrestler Norman Morrel was another victim of his tactful approach to wrestling. Rashid Anwar was even given a name to his special wrestling move which was termed as the 'Swinging Boston Crab'. He might have won a medal had the 1940 Olympics taken place given that he was int eh form of his life.

After serving as an ambulance driver in World War 2, he came back to wrestle in 1957. His final victory was against famed champion Hans Streiger in 1959. This marked the end of his wrestling career that was a brilliant run from start to finish.

He unfortunately passed away in 1973 at his residence in Camden, London. Rashid Anwar is just one of the many forgotten gems of India's pre- and post-independence sporting world. His legacy can be attributed to putting India on the road map of world wrestling. Moreover, it also gives rise

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