From local wrestler to world champion

Meet the Senegalese girls breaking the rules!

From local wrestler to world champion

My parents died when I was young, so I was raised by the women in my community. Although they showed me a lot of love, I moved from house to house never really feeling like I belonged anywhere. But then, I started wrestling and it changed my life. I finally found something that I could call my own.

A special lady in my village started wrestling in Senegal some years ago, when wrestling wasn’t seen as a “woman’s sport”. Sambou broke all the stereotypes. She broke all the rules. In a time when people thought wrestling was only for men, Sambou walked into the ring and blew everyone away. She even made it to the Olympics! How incredible… a woman from my little village in Senegal making it to an international stage. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it, don’t you think?

When Isabelle Sambou returned to Senegal she set up a wrestling club for young girls, because she believed girls coming after her could be world champions too. That’s how I got involved. I signed up to get trained because, thanks to Sambou, I have dreams of becoming a world champion one day. Aside from my dream, I love wrestling because it makes me feel strong and purposeful. You have to learn how to be confident and believe in yourself, otherwise your opponent will smell your fear and you may lose the fight.

Sambou didn’t become a champion overnight. She started locally and worked her way up. I’m doing the same. Getting scared over a big dream isn’t going to help me in any way, so I focus on training hard whenever I can. Also every morning when I wake up I close my eyes and imagine myself winning every fight and holding a gold medal. After imagining myself winning so many times, it doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

Isabelle Sambou made our village so proud that the elders made her the first woman to be a chief and a leader in the village. Now that I know boxing is what I want to do in life, I’m going for it with everything I’ve got. I won’t stop taking action towards my dreams because when girls step into the ring, great things can happen!