A while back I wrote about the Egyptian revolutionary who was to fight a lion in support of the Egyptian revolution. The man, Al-Sayed al-Essawy, wanted to fight – but not kill – a healthy, non-sedated lion, using only his bare hands in order to prove that he was thee world’s strongest man. Or something. The Arabist gives an update of the event which, unfortunately, did not live up to expectations. Though it did involve a satellite dish shield and a trident:
Far from being “King of the Jungle” the lion seemed confused, dehydrated and possibly drugged as it stayed in one corner of the ring. The lion gave one feeble roar but largely ignored his opponent. The lion’s body showed open wounds above its right eye, on the tail and around the anus. An online petition to stop the fight attracted nearly 5,000 signatories and was aimed at the “President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.”. On Twitter some animal rights activists called on NATO to launch airstrikes against those in attendance.
Excepting the treatment of the lion, the performance was handled rather professionally. Al-Essawy was at all times assisted by several body-builders, who haned him weapons and dealt with the crowds. Despite billing himself as the world’s strongest man (other Egyptians might contest this), he must of lacked some degree of faith in his abilities. Men outside the cage armed with European made pistols stood ready to execute the lion if needed.
His mother dressed in all black was with him throughout the day. She gave interviews, looked after his collection of melee weapons and sat behind him as he prepared to enter the ring. She kissed and blessed him warmly prior to his brief Israel-bashing speech he gave before entering the ring. In interviews she talked confidently and with pride about her son “the lion fighter” and his strength. But, when the Egyptian TV cameras were elsewhere her face betrayed moments of worry. It was difficult to gauge to what extent she realized the fix was in.
Al-Essawy’s performance contradicted himself in several ways. After vowing to fight barehanded he entered the open-roofed cage heavily armed. At one point he claimed to have taken care of this lion for five months. At another juncture he said that this was only his second time seeing the lion.
Photo from DigNubia