In Sudan, wrestling has become an avenue for peace, unity, and even prosperity among some tribes that were once in constant conflict. Here are 12 ways the Nuba wrestling industry benefits Sudan.
Some members of Sudanese tribes barely earn enough to live on from their day jobs. Wrestling, however, has provided an opportunity for extra income. Economist Peter Biar Ajak says at events hosted by the South Sudan Wrestling Company, wrestlers can earn around $400 USD per match, according to the blog Paanluel Wel.
Among Sudanese tribes, there is a lot of cattle conflict. Cows are the most precious commodity, and so they’re often stolen. The money wrestlers earn in a match can buy them a new cow, which might reduce cattle conflict.
Regional land disputes have forced thousands of Sudanese people to leave their homes and relocate to the capital, Khartoum. According to DW, wrestling is, “much more than a sport—it’s a way for them to keep their identity alive.”
Sudanese wrestling, unlike most other kinds of wrestling, is non violent. Competitors are not allowed to punch, kick or hit each other. They have to take one another down by calculated but non-impactful movements. It provides a non-violent way for opposing tribes to relieve tension, according to WrestlingRoots.
Crowds of thousands attend matches from all over Sudan. The wrestling arenas provide a place where tribes that typically fight over land and resources, come together and enjoy a common interest, according to WrestlingRoots.
One visitor to Sudan who attended several wrestling matches said they’re a place where people from different tribes court one another. Courting and marrying across tribes may not have been common in more turbulent times, but these matches might change that, according to the blog Paanluel wel.
Some reports say wrestling champions become rock stars, earning respect across Sudan. They get visitors from outside their own tribes who bring gifts, offer to cook and want to meet the champion’s family. A wrestler’s title of tribe name seems to be replaced by “celebrity.”
Previously, Sudanese tribes asserted their power by fighting over land, stealing resources and getting into battles, according to Wrestling Roots. Wrestling champions have a new sign of power — a red flag they put over their homes. Some social analysts say that this flag satisfies the tribes’ needs to show authority, and may even reduce land disputes.
The Japanese Embassy is working to welcome Sudanese wrestlers to the 2020 Olympics. This would not only be a huge financial opportunity for competitors but would help promote tourism to Sudan, where visitors could attend live matches.
Sudanese wrestling is different from the style of wrestling most of the world practices. As a way of preparing Sudanese competitors for the Olympics, Japan sent its own wrestling stars to train young Sudanese hopefuls. Even if they do not get into the Olympics, they will still be trained in a wrestling style that they can take to competitions around the world, according to DW.
Sudanese from all over the country are training for the 2020 Olympics. Young men from various tribes might represent their country, giving the world a different perspective from the country often thought of as divided.
The South Sudan Wrestling Company is the type of innovation the country needs, says Economist Peter Biar Ajak. He hopes that its success will attract more investors to Sudan, according to Wrestling Roots.