The Martial Art Of Senegalese Wrestling: West Africa’s Most Intense Combat Sport

Heavyweight superstar "Reug Reug" Oumar Kane makes his ONE debut

From the sandy pits of Senegal to the ONE Championship Circle, “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane has brought Senegalese wrestling to the masses.

Now, after scoring four wins in the promotion — three of which came by knockout — the ambassador to Senegal’s national sport is returning to ONE for his toughest challenge yet.

“Rueg Reug” will meet 17-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida in a pivotal heavyweight MMA bout at ONE Fight Night 13 on Prime Video in North American primetime on Friday, August 4.

Before this epic clash of giants goes down at the famed Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, let’s dive deeper into what makes Senegalese wrestling such a magnetizing sport.

Embedded In Senegalese Culture

Senegalese wrestling dates back to the 14th century and began with the Serer people. The sport was performed as part of the harvest festival celebrations to determine who the strongest man in the community was.  

One of the oldest known participants was Boukar Djilak Faye, who lived in the 14th century in the Kingdom of Sine and exceeded in competition.

The West African wrestling art was also used to prepare soldiers for war, and kings would settle disagreements and conflicts with one another through the discipline.

Senegalese wrestling eventually became a spectator sport, and nowadays tens of thousands of fans fill stadiums to the rafters to watch the awesome events play out.

Senegalese Wrestling Rule Set

In Senegalese wrestling, athletes can strike their opponents with their hands or feet and, in order to win, must get their opponents to make contact with the ground with any given body part. They can also win by submission, but not the kind of submissions found in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

A contest ends once an athlete has been knocked out, touches the ground, or is removed from the wrestling area. Because there are multiple ways to win, bouts tend to last only two to three minutes. 

However, tradition plays an important role in the matchups. Athletes sometimes perform rituals before competing, such as rubbing their feet on stone, dancing in the sand, or using oils on their bodies. 

Senegalese Wrestling Techniques

Senegalese wrestling techniques can vary from your standard double-leg takedowns and common trips seen from traditional wrestlers. 

Instead, athletes compete inside the clinch and throw punches at one another in an attempt to knock their foes to the ground. 

In other adaptations of Senegalese wrestling, where rules slightly differ, strikes aren’t allowed. So, athletes have to work from inside the clinch and wait for their opponents to leave a leg free.

The wrestler then snatches the leg and drives it high above them in order to remove the defender’s base. What follows is a massive slam to the ground for the win. 

The Evolution Of Senegalese Wrestling

While the sport continues to take place in stadiums around Africa in front of tens of thousands of passionate fans, the grappling discipline has transcended into mixed martial arts.

One of the most recognized Senegalese wrestlers of recent times is “Reug Reug,” who’s exciting style continues to win over fans of the all-encompassing sport of MMA.

Because he has dedicated himself to becoming the best mixed martial artist on the planet, he is rising up the heavyweight division and putting all contenders on notice.

With a 75 percent finishing rate to boot, “Reug Reug” is in the finest form of his career, having won his last two bouts against notable heavyweight competition. 

The Senegalese standout looks to make his country proud once again when he takes on the most decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor of all time in “Buchecha.”

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