Other Favourite Rural and Urban Sports

Besides the popular sports like the cricket, hockey and squash, the indigenous sports played in the rural areas are a very popular pastime for the Pakistanis. These include Kabaddi, Kushti (local wrestling), tent pegging, various cart races, while in urban areas polo, swimming, badminton, table tennis and snooker are also extensively played.

Kushti (Wrestling): Kushti is an age old indigenous sports in Pakistan and India. The game is also played in Iran. Unlike the western wrestling, this indigenous game is generally played in arena of loose earth, called "Ukada" and has its own typical style, not resembling to the western style in any way. The wrestlers are clad in tight-fitting underwear, called "langot" in native language, and their near-naked bodies splashed with oil to make them slippery, to evade the opponents.  Before they enter the arena, they kiss the earth as a mark of respect.
Kushti techniques generally consist of interlocking the arms, using the torso and legs to twist and turn the opponent’s body etcetera. In native language, a wrestler is called a "Pehalwan", derived from the Persian language.
Some great names in Pakistani Kushti are Bholo , Jhara, Akki and Teli Pehalwan. However, this indigenous game, once very popular in the rural and urban areas alike is on the verge of decline mainly because of the expenditures involved in preparing a pehalwan and lack of patronage by the government and well to do people. Some of these were also awarded with the President's Pride of Performance Award.
"Noora Kushti": The term originated from the "ukada" of kushti and is commonly referred to a one sided match or a match in which both wrestlers seems to have post-collaborated with each other. This term has found its way in common usage when someone feels a foul game.

gama"Gama": The mention of Kushti without the great name of Gama would be utterly unfair. His actual name was Ghulam Hussain, but was popularly known as Gamma. Born in 1880, he had an inclination for wrestling since his childhood, and by the age of 20, he had defeated almost all wrestlers of the undivided India. In 1910, a wrestling match was organized for the award of the title "Rustam-e-Hind", Gama defeated all wrestlers and earned the title. In 1910 Gama defeated the American B. Roller by taking him off his feet 13 times in 15 minutes and in 1928, he defeated western champion Zbyszko in 4 seconds with a cross-buttock. Gama's last match was with J.C Peterson whom he defeated in 45 seconds. Gama wrestled for many years and always emerged victorious. One of his greatest quality was that he had not only a sense of self respect but was very friendly in nature. After the partition, Gama continued to devote himself for the development of kushti in Pakistan and was awarded with the President's Pride of Performance award. He died in Lahore on 22nd May in 1960. Continuing the family traditions, Manzoor Hussain alias "Bholo" became the first Pakistani to earn the title of "Rustam-e-Pakistan". After the death of Gama, Bholo challenged all wrestlers of the world for a duel, but no one accepted the challenge.   Read More

Tennis: Lawn tennis in Pakistan is often played in Army messes and some gymkhana clubs in major cities. The Pakistan team in 2005 won three gold medals in the Islamic Games besides qualifying for the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs. Some names in Pakistan tennis are Aqeel Khan, Asim Shafik, Nomi Qamar, Shahzad Khan and Jalil Khan.
In 2004, Aisam-ul - Haq of Pakistan outclassed the top Chinese Davis Cupper and their highest ranked ATP tennis player Peng Sun in the semi final of the Asian Tennis Championship in Tashkent after a marathon match which was fully stretched to three sets, 7-6 (12-10), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

Snooker: Snooker is being played in Pakistan since the British times and billiards table can still be seen in the old club halls and Army messes. However, lately the craze for snooker has expanded even in remote villages where young men can be found playing snooker on home made tables and clubs.
Pakistan has hosted the international snooker championship in in 1963, 1966 and 1993. But it rose to glory when Mohammed Yousuf beat J. R. Johannesson  of  Iceland     11 - 9 in South Africa 1994 and became the first Pakistani to win the international championship titile. In the 2003 world championship played in China, Saleh Mohammad of Pakistan lost to Pankaj Advani of India in the finals. Khurram Agha and Naveen Parwani are other names in Pakistani snooker.

Golf: Golf in Pakistan never crossed its frontiers until very recently when two golfers from Pakistan, Muhammad Sabir and Muhammad Munir created ripples and qualified for the Golf World Cup recently after finishing in the first three Asian qualifiers at Petaling, Jaya, Malaysia.  The unheralded Pakistani duo shot a superb three-under-par 68 in the final round foursomes at the Seri Selangor Golf Club to finish third behind winners Singapore, represented by Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, and the Philippines’ pair of Mars Pucay and Angelo Que. Pakistan mixed their scorecard with four birdies against two bogeys before a nailing crucial final birdie on the 18th hole to seal a historic debut against the world’s best in China later in November. Shabbir, who recently recovered from a long-term back injury, relied mostly on Munir’s experience. And he said that his partner steered them to third place. “I couldn’t read the greens this week and I told Munir that I was out of form. But he told me that he had confidence in me and guided me along. That’s how we made the cut,” he said. Malaysia's Chia and Steel, chasing Malaysia's first World Cup appearance in eight years, fought gamely but a bogey on the 17th hole dashed their hopes. report filed: 29 August 2009 The 55th Golf World Cup, played for a US$ 5.5 million prize will be held in China at Mission Hill Golf Club, the largest golf facility in the world, in November 2009.


Polo - the game of Kings, is one of the oldest sports in the world. It became a Persian national game in the 6th century AD. From Persia, the game spread to Arabia, then to Tibet, China and Japan. In China, in the year 910, death of a favourite relative in a game prompted Emperor Apao-Chi to order beheading of all players. Polo was introduced in South Asia, by the Muslim conquerors in the 13th century. English word 'Polo" is a Balti word meaning, "ball". In undivided India, the Muslim ruler Qutab ud Din Aibak was one of its avid supporter and player. Then it was known as "chaugan". Qutb-ud-din died accidentally in 1210, while playing Chougan, his horse fell and Qutb-ud-din was impaled on the pommel of his saddle. He is buried inside the famous Anarkali Bazaar of Lahore

In Pakistan, polo has is generally played by the teams of Pakistan Army and all major cantonments have polo grounds that attract visitors from all over the country. However, many other private polo clubs also provide facilities of this very expensive game to its lovers. Pakistan Polo Association (PPA) is the successor of the Indian Polo Association in Pakistan after independence in 1947. The Association is responsible to support/promote the game of Polo and coordinate all polo activities in Pakistan. Some of the major polo clubs in Pakistan are listed below:-

Presently the Pakistan Polo Team ranks amongst the top few teams of the world. Pakistan recently participated in the Zone-D of World polo Cup and beat India at Lahore in the semi finals. However, later Pakistan lost to world Champions Brazil in Paris in September 2003. But for starters in world cup, it was a fairly good performance. 

Polo is also played at some 11,000 feet high polo ground at Shandur in Chitral. The game lovers flock from all over the world to witness the traditional match between the players of Chitral and Gilgit besides enjoying the festivities specially arranged on the occasion.

This page was created on 1 January 2005 / 5 September  2009

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