La Lutte Wrestling

Published On:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Topic Summary:

Victor Acquah

Traditional Senegalese Wrestling, also known as "Laamb" in Wolof, is a centuries-old sport in Sénégal. In terms of form, it is usually compared to the Greco-Roman style of wrestling, however, it is very typical of traditional African wrestling.  There are two forms of Laamb;  The first allows the wrestlers to strike each other with their bare hands, which can be painful. The second is more acrobatic and hitting is not permitted. When a wrestler's back touches the ground, the match is over, he has lost.

Laamb is as much a spiritual activity as it is physical and wrestlers engage in various rites and rituals before fighting. No wrestler, regardless of strength, physical or technical abilities, will ever dare to enter the ring, much less fight, without his "marabout" or JuJu Man, or without participating in his own pre-match ceremony. During the ceremony, the wrestler, accompanied by drummers and singers, dances around the arena.  Around his arms, legs, and waist are various kinds of juju or amulets , supposed to protect him against evil spirits and the witchcraft of other fighters. It is this aspect of the sport which elevates a wrestling match beyond the level of ordinary spectator sport. Many people attend as much for the enjoyment of the ceremony as for the sport.  ( by Beatrix Jourdan )

From Wikipedia

Lutte Duppedrongofrillo (fr. for Traditional Wrestling) is the name used to describe related styles of West African Folk wrestling, known as Laamb in Senegal, Boreh in The Gambia, Evala in Togo, and KoKowa / Kokawa in Hausa areas of Nigeria and Niger, or simply Lutte Traditionnelle, in Niger and Burkina Faso. International competition takes place during the Jeux de la Francophonie and the newly organised Championship of African Lutte Traditionnelle.

Since the 1950s, a number of West African traditions have been assimilated into Lutte Traditionnelle as it has become a major spectator sport and cultural event. The major variation has become Laamb, or Senegalese Wrestling, which allows punching (frappe), the only of the West African traditions to do so. As a larger confederation and championship around Lutte Traditionnelle have developed since the 1990s, Senegalese fighters now practice both forms, called officially Lutte Traditionnelle sans frappe (for the international version) and Lutte Traditionnelle avec frappe for the striking version. In Nigeria, and Hausa areas of Niger, Kokawa has become regularised to the West African standard. There the striking component has been hived off to a separate boxing event called Dambe. Both are performed on the same traditional ring, though Dambe has become the preserve of traveling cofraternaties of fighters.

Two fighters compete in a circular ring, in more formal events bound by sand bags. Each fighter attempts to eject the other from the ring, though they can win by knocking the other off their feet or onto all fours.

Lutte Traditionnelle has grown in organisation and popularity throughout much of West Africa since the 1980s. Alongside national championships in many nations, several organisations have organised international tournaments, which in turn have necessitated a harmonisation of rules. International competition takes place during the Jeux de la Francophonie and since 2000, is overseen by a coordinating body which organises the African Championship of lutte traditionnelle. In 2008, the Communauté économique des Etats de l'Afrique de l'ouest (CEDEAO/ECOWAS) organised its first international championship for Lutte Traditionnelle in Dakar, inviting teams from eleven nations: Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gambia, Guinée Bissau, Togo, Liberia and la Côte d'Ivoire. Nigeria won the competition, marking the first time an Anglophone nation (outside the Gambia) has won a major Lutte tourney. 

Wikipedia Link - Lutte Traditionnelle

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