AKA: Senegal’s Warrior Cop: A Look Into the World of Senegalese Wrestling
Genre: Sports Documentary
Year Released: 2018
Running Time: 3 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: PG
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Rollin’ In Dakar, Africa’s Superstar Wrestlers, Senegalese Laamb Wrestling & The World is Sinking, Team Foxcatcher, Kyle Snyder: Level 10, Journey Into Freestyle Wrestling, Last Man Standing (Documentary)
-This documentary is streaming on YouTube.
-Itunu Kuku isn’t just a director, he’s also a musician and his videos are also on his YouTube channel.
-Senegalese Wrestling AKA Laamb or Njom is Senegal’s national sport that’s been around for centuries. This form of martial art still draws large crowds to this day and it was used by the Serer people as they used it for war training. The wrestlers start with a signature dance and do a bakk which involves a speech to intimidate the opponent and/or respect the elders around. To all you pro wrestling fans out there, this is like the original way of cutting a promo.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: The film is technically 3 minutes and 16 seconds long. I’m surprised no one has made a joke saying Big Pato 3:16 as a way to parody “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s famous promo.
I didn’t expect to be taken back to Senegal again, but it has happened. I also haven’t covered too many sports documentaries as much as I used to. Some of those aforementioned topics that have been featured there have been fencing (Beatrice), swimming (Francesco), ski jumping (Noriaki), and basketball (The Iran Job). Yes, I’ve also reviewed three pro wrestling docs, but this time, I’m taking on real wrestling although it’s not of the Greco-Roman variety. Did you know Senegal has their own form of wrestling that’s also a national sport? It’s been getting some attention thanks to Vice Media and even Joe Rogan of all people mentioning it.
This subject involves a man who enforces the law as his day job but wrestles outside of it.
Senegal’s Warrior Cop is about Pathe Boye AKA Big Pato. He normally patrols the streets, but he’s also one of the top Laamb wrestlers in his hometown. There are posters with his face around the place and gets to compete against some of the toughest fighters in the area. Big Pato performs in front of huge crowds at the local stadium and trains really hard for long hours with weights, cardio, and other exercises. He and the other wrestlers decorate themselves with traditional clothes, amulets, and douse themselves with things such as “mystical” water to protect him in battle. Big Pato sees wrestling as life as he exists to be in the ring when he’s not driving a squad car.
Much like watching Beatrice, this involved something that was new to me. I didn’t know wheelchair fencing existed until I watched that documentary and I didn’t know Senegal had their own traditional martial art until very recently. It was also amazing seeing tons of videos and YouTube channels dedicated to this national sport in West Africa. Big Pato tells so much in a short period of time as he talks about his life and ideology about wrestling against people. He does it for his family while also keeping a tradition alive that’s been going on for centuries. People even wear shirts with his name on them like a pro wrestling show although Senegalese wrestling certainly isn’t scripted like that form of entertainment. The production was on point with crisp shots, nice B-roll footage, and the earth tones really make the visuals work. I thought the traditional soundtrack was a nice touch, especially in hindsight when I saw some Senegalese wrestling matches that use drummers and singers as background music as the fights commence. You certainly won’t be dealing with generic hard rock or nu metal when you see this sport, that’s for sure.
Senegal’s Warrior Cop does get taken down a few times. The most obvious thing for me was the very short run time. I would’ve liked to have seen much more from Big Pato and the Senegalese wrestling scene. I wished there would’ve been some more footage of his fights which would be able to show more of his fighting prowess. Much like Eddie Dennis: A 5 Year Old’s Dream, I wished there was more of his history shown in addition to some match footage to really solidify his other job. There also was a lack of his “real job” on display. Sure, Big Pato is in uniform in multiple scenes, but I didn’t know why he was a policeman, to begin with, or show parts of him on duty even if it was just doing basic patrolling around town. Although to be fair to Big Pato, I doubt his country’s policemen have a police brutality issue. Just saying. It would be a stronger documentary if we knew more about his jobs and his life.
This short (real) wrestling documentary was a nice short watch for anyone to check out. Big Pato does look like an inspiring figure for anyone to try anything although I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the ring against him. The cinematography is certainly great and the music was a very appropriate touch given the culture of the sport. However, this documentary should’ve been much longer and Big Pato should’ve talked about himself much more. Senegal’s Warrior Cop was a nice and educational watch from a sport I had originally never heard of.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1 point if you like combat sports.
Add 1 point if you like learning about world cultures.
Subtract 1-2 points if you want more info in your docs.
-Very good visual production
-Eye-opening look into the world of Senegalese wrestling
-Good scoring especially in the context of the sport
-Way too short
-Not enough fighting footage from Big Pato
-Lack of information about his “day job”.
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warning: Senegal’s Warrior Cop is a documentary involving a form of folk wrestling, so expect some combat going on. The wrestlers themselves tend to be shirtless and don’t wear too much besides some trunks or traditional loincloths, but if you watch stuff from the WWE or the UFC, then this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Senegal’s Warrior Cop is property of Itunu Kuku. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Itunu Kuki.