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26 Feb, 2024 15:15

Sahel states hold Vladimir Putin martial arts tournament

Athletes from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Russia competed in the games, which concluded on Saturday
Sahel states hold Vladimir Putin martial arts tournament

The first-ever Vladimir Putin International Sambo Martial Arts Tournament for members of the newly formed Alliance of Sahel States (AES) and Russia came to an end over the weekend in Burkina Faso.

Niger won the overall tournament, followed by Burkina Faso, and Mali came in third, according to the Burkina Faso Information Agency.

Alira Abdoul Malick, an athlete from Burkina Faso, won first prize in the ‘heaviest’ category, defeating competitors from Mali, Niger, and Russia. Mali’s Drissa Traore finished second, with Russia’s Muhammad Aliev taking third place.

Sambo, a Russian acronym for self-defense without weapons, is a combat sport that combines judo, boxing, and wrestling. It originated in the Soviet Union and is now practiced internationally. It was first introduced in Burkina Faso in 2021 and is now gaining popularity throughout the Sahel.

The tournament on Saturday, organized by the Burkinabe Sambo Sports Association (ASBS) in collaboration with the ‘African Initiative’ association, featured 27 athletes from Ouagadougou, nine each from Bamako and Niamey, and two from Moscow.

Dapla Palenfo, the president of the ASBS, said the competition was named after Putin not only to increase its popularity but also to promote cooperation between AES members and Russia.

“We wanted to put the name of the competition under the name of the Russian president. This will bring the two peoples and even the Russian people closer to other AES states,” he said, according Burkina24 news agency.

Last December, ASBS announced plans to form a sambo federation to help organize events, facilitate training, and develop athletic programs. The federation will also represent Burkina Faso in international competitions, putting the West African country on the global Sambo map, according to the sports agency.

The military governments in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger signed a charter late last year establishing AES to defend each other against security threats after expelling French troops from their countries. The three former French colonies have taken steps to strengthen ties with Moscow in a variety of areas, including military cooperation to fight a decades-long jihadist insurgency in the Sahel.

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