From a fishermen’s village to viral sensation: The story of Reug Reug

Reug Reug
Image via @ares.fighting.championship on Facebook

There’s a small, little fishermen’s village in West Africa, called Thiaroye-Sur-Mer, Thiaroye by the sea. Situated on the southeast coast of Cape Verde, in the suburbs of Dakar, this Senegalese town totals just more than 35,000 inhabitants.

Most of the people there try to make a living by fishing, but there is another activity you can pursue in Senegal. You can wrestle.

And that is what Oumar Kane (1-0 MMA; 1-0 ARES), also known as “Reug Reug”, did. Born in a family of wrestlers 28 years ago, he started practicing Senegalese wrestling at a young age.

“I’ve started doing Mbapatte (a group of traditional wrestling techniques) when I was 16. After a few months [of training], I left my home and moved to a Seereer community village and tested my self into a lot of competitions. In 2012, then, I came back to Dakar and had my first official fight”, Oumar Kane told BJPENN.com

Laamb (or Njom), the original form of Senegal’s wrestling, was created by Seereer people, as a form of preparatory exercise for war among the warrior classes. Today’s wrestling is more sport-oriented and there are two versions of it: Lutte avec frappe and Lutte sans frappe (respectively, wrestling with blows and wrestling without blows).

Kane, unbeaten in Lutte avec frappe, switched to mixed martial arts just a few months ago, when he first stepped foot into the ARES Fighting Championship’s eight-sided cage in December 2019.

“I switched to mixed martial arts because it’s a combat sport I love and [I] would like to practice it until I reach the highest level and get the [most important] belt”, Reug Reug stated. “[It’s] not easy, but my staff and I are doing good to be on the top. Many thanks to Laity Sene o Mbellonguithie my manager.”

Already a superstar in his home country, he instantly became an idol in the international MMA community as well, when he defeated former Cage Warriors heavyweight contender Sofiane Boukichou, rag-dolling the Franco-Moroccan fighter in a superior fashion.

“I’ve felt very happy after fighting and winning on my mixed martial arts debut”, the heavyweight recalls. “But as my manager always says, we have lots of things in front of us. It was nice to win, though, especially at home, in front of my people.”

Following his MMA baptism, the 28-year-old behemoth spent some days overseas, in the US, chilling and training as well.

“I use to go to the United States, if [I got] nothing to do in Senegal, just for some vacation time and training sessions too. I know that everywhere I go, I’ll find a coach there.”

The ARES’ rising star was slated to make his sophomore bout in April, against Russian veteran Ivan Romanov, but the whole ARES 2 event got canceled due to COVID–19 pandemic. Now, waiting for the next ARES Fighting Championship’s gig, “Reug Reug” has clear ideas on what is MMA path will be.

“My only goal in MMA is to get into the top-level, become the world champion, and retire with the belt.”

“Reug Reug” is surely not the first wrestling-based fighter to switch to MMA, and he could actually make a splash in the sport, considering the lack of talent in the heavyweight landscape worldwide.

How do you like Oumar Kane’s chances to became a world champion in MMA? Drop your predictions below.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 6/22/2020.