Mahamadou Toure is from Mali, he is 16 years old and prefers to be called ‘Elephant’. Ten months ago he arrived in Gran Canaria and now, with the return of extracurricular activities, he has decided to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Mamadou Danthioko, “Camara”, another former boy from the boats who today is a growing figure in the Canarian wrestling.
‘Elefante’ trains twice a week in the north of Gran Canaria with the Unión Gáldar Fighting Club, along with other teenagers from Mali and Mauritania who now reside in that municipality from the north of the island and whose dreams do not go through a soccer field or a basketball court, but through that place where the most profound Canarian sport continues to arouse passions, the terrero.
Almost a hundred unaccompanied minors live in the center that has recently been opened in Gáldar. Among them is this young Malian who explains to Efe that, among the different sports he could engage in in his extracurricular activities, he decided to practice this given his great taste for fighting.
Although right now the Canarian wrestling itself cannot be practiced because physical contact and, therefore, grip are prohibited, ‘Elefante’ hopes to learn the secrets of this sport “little by little”, as did his compatriot and reference in the Canarian fight Mamadou Camara, who also arrived in the Canary Islands with only sixteen years, in 2008.
“I like it a lot”, Mahamadou repeats, explaining that although there is no similar sport in his country, he did know about Canarian wrestling before arriving on the island, thanks to Camara.
The fight club season for the Gáldar club started on November 11 with the corresponding health security measures, which include the prohibition of grip, so for now the training is focusing on physical work, with circuits and different games.
“We have all stated that until there is security and we have a clear protocol, the Gran Canaria teams will not be willing to start the competition”, Reminds Efe the president of the Unión Gáldar Fighting Club, Rayco Ramírez, who predicts that until at least mid-2021 the fighters will not be able to hold on again.
Ramírez has assured that all the members of the club are “very happy” that these young people from Africa have chosen their sport and “want to be part of this project”, given that currently one of the aspects that most worries fans of this sport is to continue “cultivating the seed” that motivates the little ones to learn Canarian wrestling.
For this reason, Unión Gáldar has reactivated this season’s training with the lower categories, the “fundamental and primordial part of the fight” if it wants to continue having a presence in current Canarian society, given that the number of people who practice it has waned for several years now.
If this fighting club did not start with training, it ran the risk that, with the return of the rest of the sporting activities after the break that began in March, with the first state of alarm, the boys and girls would go to practice another sport.
However, the Unión Gáldar has not seen the number of children and adolescents in these lower categories diminish despite the prohibition of grabbing by Health and now has about 18 boys and girls in female, fingerlings and youngest and about 14 in the cadet, child and youth categories, to which are added these young migrants who have also joined the team.
“The time they are here we want them to feel honored, feel part of us and practice, of course, our hallmark”, says the president of the Galician club.