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How the "first Tiger of Fass" revolutionized the Senegalese struggle

Former Senegalese wrestling champion Mbaye Guèye has died at the age of 75. The “first Tiger of Fass” was a legend of traditional wrestling and one of the most popular sportsmen in Senegal.

Fans of traditional wrestling in Senegal, an extremely popular sport in the country, are in mourning. The champion of this discipline, Mbaye Guèye, died this weekend at the age of 75. Buried Saturday afternoon in the holy city of Touba, he received honors and tributes from all sides.

At the home of the “first Tiger of Fass”, in the popular district of the same name, figures of sport, politics and the traditional chiefdom, but also his family, his friends and religious leaders flocked. The head of the Mbao wrestling stable, Khalifa Niang, recalled that "Mbaye Guèye symbolized the temerity and the technicality of the fight, because he was not tall, but he always managed to defeat his opponents".

On his Twitter account, the President of Senegal Macky Sall paid "tribute to a brave sportsman who, by his legendary bravery, has forever marked the Senegalese struggle".

Mbaye Guèye, the father of a generation of titans

The king of the arenas was at the head of a real dynasty. Senegalese wrestling, the national sport par excellence, owes a lot to Mbaye Guèye. So much so that his name will remain engraved in the history of wrestling: he was one of those who had made this discipline evolve. The athlete proposed, in the 1980s, that we integrate the rules of Greco-Roman wrestling in Senegalese wrestling. Mbaye, like his brother Moustapha, who succeeded him, came from the “mbapatts”, night fights in the popular district of Fass which gave birth to champions.

The district of Fass in Dakar was then, in 1974, the first district of the capital and the country to introduce its own stable of combatants. Most of the titans in the arena were practicing striking at the time. The "làmb" - the contemporary Senegalese struggle - developed under the influence of Mbaye. Thanks to the champion, the initial rules and those of Greco-Roman wrestling were mixed to give rise to a more spectacular discipline. Thanks to this development, Senegalese wrestlers have become, internationally, freestyle wrestling champions.

The làmb went from the streets to a more serious organization, this sport integrating the Senegalese Olympic Wrestling Federation in 1985. Mbaye Guèye then won three championships. He gave way to his younger brother, Moustapha "Tapha" Guèye. As for Mbaye, he took on another stature: that of a trainer at the head of a team of future champions. He had also decided to develop his sport, continuing to supervise the Senegalese wrestling and to try to bring him new sponsors.

Today, Mouhamed "Tyson" Ndao, Manga 2 "king of the arenas", Pape Diop, Eumeu Sène or Lac de Guiers owe a lot to the late champion. Because thanks to Mbaye Guèye, sport has survived by modernizing and wrestlers now earn their living through remunerative fights.

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