Wrestling in Gambia is more than a sport, it's an important part of Gambian culture when young men of individual villages come together to show courage, strength and honour. Wrestling in The Gambia had fallen out of favour but is currently experiencing somewhat of a revival, however bouts or wrestling festivals only take place sporadically, so its best to ask your representative where and when. We should also say that these can be very feisty occasions and may not be for the faint-hearted! We advise that you find a guide to accompany you on this trip. If you are interested, speak to a representative in resort and they will be able to advise you on where the next bout is taking place.
The rules are fairly simple, the first wrestler to get thrown to the ground loses! Challenges are issued and accepted, wrestlers grapple each other (wearing little more than a loin cloth), trying to take each other down. Kicking, punching, slapping or throwing sand in the eyes are not allowed and the audience can get very vocal if they think the rules have been bent a little too far (jeering however is not allowed).
There are many bouts going on in the arena at the same time and to be honest, its difficult for an outsider to tell exactly what is going on and who has won, especially as they all seem to parade around the dusty arena like champions, chaperoned by their entourage of fans, dancers and musicians. The atmosphere is intense and a heady mix of drumming, whistling, dust, sweat and shouting from coaches, participants and the audience.
Make sure you take drinks, a hat and suncream as you may not be able to find much shade in the arena. Another good tip is to take lots of coins or small notes - when each winner parades around with their entourage, spectators are encouraged to show their appreciation.