In a scene from Mali, ten men dressed in green sing “Mother pray for us,” as they run on a sandy field by the ocean. The volleyball season resumed this Wednesday with no restrictions on it, a year after the coronavirus prevented practices.
Wrestling in West African nations is an ancient tradition, dating back to harvest festivals that have long been a focus of religious fervor and social theater.
Boxing is a fascinating part of the Egyptian culture, where the ritualistic fights between gladiators in loincloths resonate with hundreds of thousands of people.
On Sunday, the first of what is expected to be two major bouts between global soccer players that are being held in a 20,000-seat stadium just outside of Dakar will take place.
Sene is a former national champion who once crowned himself “King of the Arenas” and is hoping to make a comeback this week in his match against another fighter known as Lac 2.
There are five separate bouts on this Saturday’s fight card, but this one is the main draw. Panels advertise the event line the streets.
Gaston Mbengue, the fight promoter, told AFP that there had not been a clash of this level in years.
Must not lose
Professional wrestling matches have been banned in Senegal since last year by the government after many nationwide people protested the health measure. However, this month, Senegalese officials lifted the ban on professional wrestling so that it can resume. Earlier at a training session in Dakar’s Petit Mbao area, these fighters grapple with each other while they’re interrupted by a call to prayer.
“My career depends on this, I must not lose,”
He believes victory would give him a second chance at regaining the prestigious King of the Arena title. Ngom, known as Sene, is a wrestler who goes by evocative nicknames such as ‘John Cena,’ after an American professional wrestler; or simply, ‘Building.’
Despite this practice of African mythology, when fighters step out onto the mat they do so knowing the rules. Wrestling trainers are well aware that some spells could be cast on top of them while they battle on the mat, and believe in purifying their bodies before entering the ring with respect to the rules of African tradition.
“The wrestlers coat their bodies in a liquid that has magical properties” and they face off in the arena, while serenaded by “griot” singers. “One of them is Sadio’s Son” said Ngarafe Ndiaye, 22, who started selling telephones during the pandemic. Nicknamed “Ndiaye,” he hopes to make a full-time living out of wrestling one day.
Senegalese wrestling is a type of folk wrestling traditionally performed by the Serer people and now a national sport in Senegal, and is part of a larger West African form of traditional wrestling. Wrestling is the favorite sport in Senegal ahead of soccer. pic.twitter.com/8EWo3fsfMj
— Africa United Group (@AfricaUnitedG) September 17, 2020