Getting involved in women’s wrestling off the mats as well as on is the glue that’s continuing to unite the global community of women’s wrestlers.
That’s the advice from Senegal’s top female wrestler Isabelle Sambou.
Female Competition International through our articles have traveled all over the world and this is the second time we make a stop at Senegal in West Africa to share a wonderful story about a female wrestler whose determination has vaulted her to super star status in women’s wrestling.
We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.…….Jesse Owens
Writer T.R. Foley for wrestlingroots.org lays a foundation. “For centuries female wrestlers in Senegal have competed in seasonal wrestling matches as a way to help create good fortune for the annual rice crop. However, with the expansion of Olympic opportunities for women in wrestling the nation’s most-talented female wrestlers have become accustomed to using the sport as a vessel for recognition on the international stage and fighting for equal rights at home. It’s an opportunity that gives Senegalese women hope for a brighter future.”
According to a February 2015 article in the informative publication africatopsuccess.com, “Isabelle Sambou is appointed by the World Wrestling Union as the African women Wrestler of the decade. The Senegalese champion is honored for a decade of unshared reign in the discipline in Senegal as well as on the Continent.”
Isabelle Sambou is the best African woman of these recent ten years in the domain of wrestling.
She’s the World Champion of the Beach Wrestling having ended several times at the foot of the podium. She is also the holder of eight (8) champion titles of Africa, 5th at the London Olympic Games in 2012 and she has been at the top of the Senegalese wrestling for a decade.
In a country where women’s wrestling is greatly underfunded, Isabelle is an over achiever.
The important and respected news site bbc.com adds, “Women rarely have the opportunity to participate, although female wrestling does form part of the celebrations for the rice fields festival. But women who do wrestle still face prejudice – and a lack of funding.”
In terms of the overall sport, wrestling in Senegal is as popular there as football is in America complete with major sponsors. To place some perspective on how lucrative the sport may be the insightful group aljazeera.com reports, “At least 8,000 unemployed and disadvantaged boys registered with the CNG, the governing body of wrestling in the country. They see the sport as a potential route to success, according to Thierno Ka, the organisation’s deputy chairman.
It is hardly surprising: A wrestler can earn between $250,000 to $300,000 for a bout, with the high stakes now attracting ministers, politicians, businesspeople, music celebrities and sports stars to stadiums.”
You can understand the financial motivation but also one where great memories are formed. For Isabelle one of the highlights of her career was winning her first African Championship in Egypt back in 2006.
Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of.……Bethany Hamilton
Isabel Sambou and Evelyn Diatta are female wrestling champions in Senegal who have brought pride to the country through this great sport. They and other men and women who succeed in this sport are able to make a living.
Women’s wrestling in Africa is slowly gaining traction as Nigeria has a national team as well.
Nigerian women at the 2014 Senior African Wrestling Championships which took place in Tunisia dominated the event as they topped the rankings table with 67 points ahead of hosts Tunisia, who had 61 points, and Cameroon, who had 53 points.
The broadcast site tvcontinental.tv relates, “Nigerian women at the 2014 Senior African Wrestling Championships dominated the event as they topped the rankings table with 67 points ahead of hosts Tunisia, who had 61 points, and Cameroon, who had 53 points.”
So we can see that Isabelle and her country women are not alone.
Isabelle has expressed that being a part of the global Olympic family ensures that there is financial support available for women and girls, but more importantly that there are opportunities for women on the world’s greatest sporting stage. The Olympic Games gave her a dream to reach for.
If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.….Les Brown
Isabelle is certainly inspiring and as is our custom, it’s time to have some fun, travel and taste some of the delicious foods of Senegal. First let’s provide a fact based foundation.
Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. It is the western most country in the mainland of the Old World or Eurafrasia and owes its name to the Senegal River that borders it to the east and north. Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometers (76,000 square miles), and has an estimated population of about 13 million. The climate is tropical and alternates between a dry season and rainy season.
Senegal’s capital and largest city is Dakar.
The territory of modern Senegal has been inhabited by various ethnic groups since the prehistoric era. Senegal peacefully attained independence from France in 1960, and has since been among the more politically stable countries in Africa.
French is the official language.
The famous food expert Anthony Bourdain, who has a food show on CNN travels the world uncovering lesser known places and exploring cultures and cuisine. The show has won 3 Emmy Awards and garnered 11 nominations for writing, sound mixing, editing, and cinematography.
He has taken his appetite to Senegal as well.
Okay, are you comfortable?
The enticing site our-africa.org is our server. “Main meals often consist of rice dishes. Couscous and millet also form the basis of many dishes, with protein provided by meat, peanuts or fish.
The favorite national dish is thiéboudienne, chunks of fish stuffed with herbs, served on a bed of rice and vegetables. Another popular meal is yassa poulet, grilled chicken marinated in an onion and lemon sauce.
One of the most common drinks is bissap, which is made from hibiscus, sugar and water. Ginger juice (gingembre in French) is also popular, as is bouyi, a thick sugary drink made from the fruit of the baobab.”
That felt good, but I’m not finished yet.
The largest cities of any country almost always offer the most variety. Senegal is no different. It’s a country where most of its food is imported to the Capital of Dakar.
Dakar is the largest city of Senegal.
It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city in the Old World and on the African mainland. Its position, on the western edge of Africa, is an advantageous departure point for trans-Atlantic and European trade; this fact aided its growth into a major regional port.
According to December 31, 2005 official estimates, the city of Dakar proper has a population of 1,030,594, whereas the population of the Dakar metropolitan area is estimated at 2.45 million people. Dakar is a major administrative center, home to the Senegal National Assembly and the Presidential Palace.
As a legacy of French rule, most Senegalese start their day with bread. In the capital, Dakar, there are also croissants and pastries for breakfast.
Though many people in Senegal work in agriculture, most of the country’s staple foods are imported. This causes inflation when food prices rise on the global market. Around a fifth of the population of Senegal live in Dakar.
A site filled with delicacies thekitchn.com expresses, “In Senegal, cooking is a celebration … of how we have gloriously melded the old with the new, the native with the global. This is evident in the country’s flavorful soups, stews, rice dishes, salads, and fritters both savory and sweet, in which ingredients like seafood, peanuts, hot peppers, and tropical fruits and vegetables abound.”
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.….Tommy Lasorda
The wrestling of Isabelle Sambou has added much needed flavor and variety to the cuisine of national wrestling in Senegal. Due to her courage, grit and determination we are certain when her combative days are done, she will continue to play a vital role in shaping the future of women’s wrestling in Senegal, Africa and the world.
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Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling.com, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, femcompetitor.com, WB270.com, dwwgalaxy.com, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.