/ 2017 / Press / Sports

The Gris Gris Wrestlers of Senegal

  • Prize
    Silver in Press/Sports
  • Photographer
    Christian Bobst, Switzerland

Wrestling, “la lutte” in French, is by far the most popular sport in
Senegal, even more popular than soccer. Shaman rituals are
performed as a firm part of the wrestling show, but they are also
performed behind the scenes. In the western colloquial language
these rituals are often called Voodoo, but the Senegalese call it
Gris-gris. Modern development and acient African traditions come
together in this sport. It has its historical roots in preparations
among warrior classes for battle, and is still seen as an indication
of masculine strength and ability. During the last 10 years, La
Lutte Sénégalaise has become a million dollar spectacle, mostly
because of big telecom sponsors, TV stations, and new media
channels. This has led to the most successful wrestlers becoming
media-stars and billionaires, giving young men in this African
country a very different perspective.