l'Arène de Dakar
Project info

Technique, strength and good GrisGris. These are the three keywords to win in the Dakar Arena and be put over the top by the crowd. The wrestlers of lamb, a typical Senegales wrestling, train for months to compete for a fight. They practice this sport at the beach, in one of the many fighting schools or in boxing gyms. During the match day, a marabout is the man who accompanies the wrestlers and takes care of the rituals; the fighters perform a ritual dance in front of the griot who plays the drums, they sprinkle their body with milk and exhibit the GrisGris which are the good luck talismans. In this sport people fight with bare hands, without using any protection and standing in a large circle of sand. Dazing and hitting the adversaries with punches is allowed. The match ends when one of the two contenders is put on the ground. This traditional struggle of the ethnic group of Serer was practiced in tiny villages for many reasons: to demonstrate strength and virility, to court the women and to support families with prestige and huge amounts of money. Since when in Senegal it became the national sport, the lamb has been followed by the entire country. The great champions become public figures, often appearing on television; but also in the lower categories in case of victory training and dedication are always well rewarded with huge amount of money. Many famous wrestlers come from the humblest side of the society. In fact, for the poor suburban young people fighting in the Dakar's Arena is an opportunity for a social emancipation. Maybe it is the only way to improve the living standard of their families.