Country Of Origin: Senegal

Lutte Traditionnelle

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Traditional wrestlers compete at Boreh in The Gambia.

Lutte Traditionnelle (fr. for Traditional Wrestling) is a style of West African folk wrestling, known as Laamb in Senegal, Boreh in The Gambia, Evala[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]


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.[4]

International organisation

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 Economic Community of West African States (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. [5]


“Initiation wrestling in Togo”. Retrieved 2019-09-10 – via The African. Government of Senegal: COMITE NATIONAL DE GESTION DE LA LUTTEArchived 2006-05-07 at the Wayback Machine. In pictures: Traditional boxing in Nigeria. Text by Andrew Walker, pictures by Afolabi Sotunde. BBC World Service, March 2008. See a guide to the sport at : Tout savoir sur la lutte sénégalaise: interview with Abdou Wahid Kane, professor of the Sociology of Sport at the Institut national supérieur de l’éducation physique et du sport de Dakar. Badara Diouf, Afrik News, 30 May 2005.

  1. L’arbitrage décrié au tournoi de lutte traditionnelle de la CEDEAO. APANEWS, 6 July 2008.

External links

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