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BLACKOUT for DAKAR ’17 by Bacar “Blackout” Baldé

BLACKOUT for DAKAR ’17 by Bacar “Blackout” Baldé

 

French pro-MMA fighter Bacar “Blackout” Baldé returns to Dakar, Senegal where he offered on exclusive MMA seminar free and open to the public. This gave the French champion a chance to reconnect with aspiring mixed martial artists affiliated with the LionHeart Initiative in Senegal.

Bacar is a true MMA activist who uses his skills and notoriety as means to effect social change and empower. Beyond sharing MMA with local martial artists, Bacar had a chance to also experience traditional Laamb wrestling as part of his LionHeart project. Bacar has a deep personal connections with West Africa, and never misses an opportunity to visit and support its development. In this vein, he held one of the most comprehensive MMA seminars held in Senegal. While on vacation and injured from a severely broken hand, Bacar still manages to cover every dimension of modern MMA during this free seminar open to all in Dakar. On a highly observed religious holiday, the event organized by Professor Dame Seck still attracted three dozen aspiring MMA fighters and local martial artists. Bacar led training ranging from striking, clinch, and ground fighting. Complimenting the training of many of the martial artists in attendance whose strength is mostly in one dimension or another; however, several of the students in attendance are actively competing in MMA events organized by Dame Seck in Dakar. The event following this seminar was scheduled for 18 November 2018. The fighters fortunate enough to have caught this training session undoubtedly learned crucial skills to apply during the tournament, as well as future events in which they will challenge themselves. As MMA has begun to grow in Senegal, increased interest for the sport will undoubtedly boost its standing in Senegalese society which appreciates combat sports more than any other form of entertainment. Senegal is one of the few countries in the world where a martial art is the national sport. Senegal’s national sport and by far the its peoples favorite form of entertainment is a traditional form of wrestling known locally as Laamb, which includes strikes in competitions has reportedly been practiced in region since the 14th century.

This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities. While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

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RISE of LIONS ’17 – Uganda, by D’Juan “Dirty South” Owens

RISE of LIONS ’17 – Uganda, by D’Juan “Dirty South” Owens

 

The Lionheart Initiative’s most recent project “Rise of Lions Uganda” was wildly successful. We completed four MMA seminars, and six self-defense seminars in our most recent of three trips. Our MMA Seminars were hosted by the “University of Pain”; the premier gym in the capital city of Kampala. Our self-defense seminars were held at Master Lee’s Tae Kwon Do gym in Kisugu. Our self-defense seminars consist of the instruction and drilling of grappling based techniques, and discussion on gender-based violence, domestic violence, and situational awareness. Our MMA seminars consist on striking, wrestling, and jiu jitsu techniques. Additionally, we teach the blending or transitional points between these skills. Uganda had a strong kickboxing scene; and a lot of local kick boxers are enthusiastic about learning MMA. Local promoters are planning a MMA event in 2018, so there’s essentially race to become as well rounded as possible in terms of martial skill. Each of our MMA seminars were scheduled for two hours but wound up going well over four action-packed hours. The LionHeart Initiative is planning to return to Uganda in 2018 and hold even more seminars.

This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

“Self-defense is not a sport; and it’s not about attempting retaliation. Situational awareness, in addition to confidence and competence in performing physical techniques are small tools in comparison to GLOBAL cultural transformation when it comes to gender-based violence prevention” – D’Juan Owens

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

16

COMBAT INSTINCT ’17 , by Olivier Pereira

COMBAT INSTINCT ’17 by Olivier Pereira

 

Top MMA coach Olivier Pereira from the team of UFC/Bellator fighter Paul “Semtex” Daley in the UK, joins the MMA for Africa movement with the LionHeart Initiative. Coach Ollie, as he is best known, traveled to Dakar and southern Senegal, as well as The Gambia from 9 to 22 April where he exposed local martial artists to MMA and gave free lessons to aspiring MMA fighters in order to help advance the LionHeart vision. Aiming to introduce MMA to remote areas in the region, Coach Ollie gave free classes in the small village of Kabrousse in the forrest of southern Senegal, as well as the remote village of Kartung and the city of Serrekunda in The Gambia. Finally, he visited Mbour and Dakar where he will offer free seminars to aspiring MMA fighters.Coach Olie, aka Olivier Miipapa, is a member of Chute Boxe in Curitiba, Brazil. Trained alongside the likes of Vanderlei Silva, Mauricio Shogun,

and Murilo Ninja, Oliver also worked with many prominent veterans MMA fighters, including Patrick Vallée and Cassiano Tytschyo. Since 2010, through collaborations, preparing for pro-fights, and exposure to different styles, Olivier has accumulated extensive experience and knowledge, which he used to create “Combat Instinct” a structure which serves as a fight laboratory seeking technical, strategic and tactical efficiency in the different disciplines of MMA (Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

15

QUEST of LIONS – GENESIS by Eric Huebner

QUEST of LIONS – GENESIS by Eric Huebner

Eric Huebner is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) brown belt, who was hosted by Team Bokk Jiu Jitsu in Dakar, Senegal where he led Grappling training sessions from 10 to 15 April 2017. Eric earned his brown belt under Tony Torres-Aponte, a Royce Gracie black belt out of Houston, Texas.

Since he was 12 years-old, Eric trained BJJ consistently, as well as crossed-trained in MMA, Muay Thai, and Wrestling along the way. With his extensive competitive background in BJJ, Submission Grappling and Wrestling and his experiences training at academies across the U.S., Brazil, and Europe, he is truly a seasoned grappling veteran.In 2013, after completing his dream of training and competing in Rio de Janeiro, he began to look for work opportunities abroad and has been living in Spain since 2014.

 

Currently living in Madrid and training under 3rd degree black belt Davi Cavalcante, Eric has had the opportunity to train with Gunnar Nelson black belts at Mjölnir MMA in Reykjavik, Iceland and competed at the European championships in Libson to name a couple ventures. Eric has a passion for teaching wherever he is: From offering BJJ, Self Defense, and MMA classes at his university’s recreation center, as well as teaching as a guest instructor in Vienna and helping with beginner students at his home academies in Houston, Texas and Madrid, Spain.

“I can say without a doubt that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has enriched my life and it’ll be a special experience to pass along what I’ve learned while visiting a new place, absorbing a totally different culture and creating new friendships along the way through arm bars and chokes” – Eric Huebner

Eric first discovered the LionHeart Initiative last March when it was featured in the BJJ Globetrotter newsletter and the organization immediately caught his attention for a variety of reasons. He had always been interested in exploring Africa and what better way to do that for his first trip, than training and teaching Jiu-Jitsu? He immediately saw the LionHeart Initiative as the perfect opportunity to share the knowledge that he accumulated over thousands of hours on the mat to those who are hungry to learn and who haven’t had the sameresources and opportunities that he was blessed with.

A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers

and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities. While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

3

The LIONHEART 2017 DAKAR OPEN

The LIONHEART 2017 DAKAR OPEN

The second evolution of the LionHeart Dakar Open was again staffed by members of KOA Team, but this time the objective was to impart those skills to local organizers and coaches to ensure Jiu Jitsu player affiliated with the LionHeart Initiative had the skills, experience, and ability to sustain what was previously organized by volunteer visitors from the USA.

Creating this sustainability ensured local staff were able to organize several tournaments of their own in months following the internationally organized 2017 Dakar Open. A notable and encouraging sign in 2017 was African transnational support in the form of several competitors traveling from the neighboring country of The Gambia, enduring a full day long voyage across rivers and pothole ridden roads to attend the Dakar Open.

The results and ranking from the 2017 Dakar Open held on 18 March 2017 at the Senegal National Dojo in Dakar:

ADULTS:
Blue belt, Open Weight
1. Boubacar Diallo
2. Alfred “Aziz” Fouda
3. Mamodou Lamine Ba
4. Ousmane Sagna

White belt; GI 60 – 66kg
1. René Antoine Sadio
2. Moustapha Diouf
3. Mouhamadou Ndiaye

White belt; GI 67 – 70kg
1. Cheik Ahmed Tijane Diallo
2. Edward Reska
3. Abou Wone

White belt; GI 71 – 80kg
1. Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Ndiaye
2. Pedre Seye

White belt; GI 90 – 100kg1. Bassirou Ndao

2. Ken Goodwin
3. Pierre Diouf

White belt; NOGI 60 – 66kg
1. William Leonache
2. Mouhamadou Ndiaye
3. Steve Ehi

White belt; NOGI 67 – 70kg
1. Edward Reska
2. Abou Wone
3. Issan Jichi

White belt; NOGI 90-100kg

1. Thebean Taylor
2. Bill Olander

KIDS:
White belt; GI 25 – 36kg
1. Samba Paziaud
2. Nourdin Correa
3. Abdour Rahman Seck

White belt; GI 40 – 50kg
1. Hassan Paziaud

2. Assan Malick

 

1

UNITY in DAKAR ’17 by KOA team

UNITY in DAKAR ’17 by KOA team

A small Northern Virginia Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) crew led by Professor Kelly Grissom, KOA returns to Senegal for its fourth trip, and what could be their last venture into Africa. From 16 to 20 March 2017, KOA Team will give free seminars and lead BJJ training classes to further develop Jiu Jitsu in Dakar. KOA Team believes every BJJ team can find great personal growth and reward through the LionHeart experience, as they truly have, while also helping BJJ grow in Africa through the process.

KOA Team participated in the first LionHeart event in 2013 hoping to improve lives by sharing Jiu Jitsu and helping start a BJJ sub-culture where one really did not exist before. It worked!!!…there is now a small but growing BJJ movement in Senegal, which KOA Team had a hand in helping along; however, Kelly often says the LionHeart friends they made in Senegal actually inspired and changed KOA Team members in more ways than they could have ever impacted them.

“I do not have the words to explain how the LionHeart Initiative has changed us, our jiu jitsu, our team, and our lives. We hope other teams and jiu jitsu followers have the opportunity to experience Jiu Jitsu in West Africa while it is still in its infancy, but there is a part of us that guards this life changing experience jealously” Kelly Grissom

In November 2013, Kelly undertook a bold adventure to West Africa with group of young BJJ blue belts to support the LionHeart Initiative’s efforts to introduce BJJ as a foundational component of mixed martial arts, which it aimed to develop as a way to create opportunities for African athletes. This first LionHeart project was coined Rollin’ in Dakar. KOA Team subsequently returned to Senegal in 2014 and 2016, respectively for Steadfast in Dakar and Tuff in Dakar. Rollin’ in Dakar ’13 and Tuff in Dakar ’16 included seminars, exhibitions, and cross-training in local traditional wrestling, all captured in a docu-film produced by MMA maverick filmmaker Genghis Con.

This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

 

2

RISE of LIONS ’17 – Senegal, by D’Juan Owens

RISE of LIONS ’17 – Senegal, by D’Juan Owens

D’Juan “Dirty South” Owens is a highly experienced pro-MMA fighter, with a record of 26 professional fights, and a commited supporter of LionHeart’s vision to develop MMA, as means to create opportunities for combat sports athletes in Africa.

In that vein, D’Juan offered free MMA seminars to martial arts teams, as well as self-defense courses to local communities in Dakar, Senegal from 13 to 15 March 2017. D’Juan currently lives in North Carolina and fights out of the MMA Institute in Richmond, Virginia USA. With no previous martial arts or wrestling background, D’Juan began training MMA at the age of 23 while serving in the United States Marine Corps, after he was inspired by watching The Ultimate Fighter. In spite of many challenges, D’Juan stuck to his training and was unexpedly thrusted into his first amateur fight replacing an injured teammate. D’Juan traveled to Russia and Peru to compete in MMA, and on his own initiative later traveled to Africa to use his talent to make the world a better place. A conscious warrior, D’Juan’s love for Africa took him on missions to Uganda where he taught Jiu jitsu, MMA, and self-defense seminars. He organized his seminars at schools, youth centers, religious institutions, and gyms across the country. The focal point of his self-defense seminars were gender-based violence prevention, and once the technical portion of his self-defense seminars ended, he held group discussions about situational awareness, domestic violence, and common misconceptions about sexual violence.

“If you’re not ACTIVELY engaged in the dismantling or disrupting of the system that created the circumstances that you’re striving to improve, then you’re NOT serious about the revolutionary work” – D’Juan Owens

As a veteran of XFC, Titan FC, and Inca FC, D’Juan spent most of his professional career taking on fights as an underdog, and more often than not prevailing over crowd favorites. D’Juan is credited with beating UFC veteran Dustin Pague and TUF contestant Ran Weathers, as well as wins over Bellator fighters Jeremy Myers and Ian Rammel.

D’Juan attended the LionHeart 2017 Dakar Open where he and French pro-MMA fighter Sebastien Gueit showcased the sport in 3-round MMA exhibition.  This MMA super-fight is designed to demonstrate the close relationship between BJJ and modern MMA to the local audience which otherwise was never exposed to competitive MMA.

This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

 

 

14

QUEST of LIONS – Heart of N’Djamena by Danjerr Presson

QUEST of LIONS – Heart of N’Djamena by Danjerr Presson

Danjerr is a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and a KOA Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt under Professor Kelly Grissom. Danjeer (pronounced Danger) has been practicing MMA for over 4 years and has competed in several grappling tournaments with Big Brothers competition team in Northern Virginia. Danjerr selflessly led the path to introducing MMA in N’Djamena, Tchad an exotic country in Central Africa.

During his tenure in Tchad, Danjerr established a small but motivated team, which he used helped young athletes and martial artists in N’Djamena transition to MMA by teaching them how to control and submit an opponent using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.Danjerr intended to accomplish several things in N’Djamena including planting the seeds for the evolution ofmartial arts in Tchad; thereby, helping Chadians develop confidence in their abilities, and eventually contributing to helping capable athletes earn their way to the international stage of the world’s fastest growing sport. An assortment of capable coaches for Wrestling, Judo, Boxing, Taekwondo and others who have pledged their support for LionHeart movement to expand their athletes abilities and represent the Tchadian people. Since Danjerr’s departure from Tchad, Coach Amby Valent a French amateur MMA fighter has led training sessions and continued to develop dedicated students who train and often hangout with each other. In time, the LionHeart Initiative working with volunteer fighters and coaches willing to visit Tchad and share their skills, will undoubtedly develop local MMA fighters and create opportunities to learn and compete, as it has done in Senegal since 2013.

This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart
Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

 

 

 

4

BLACKOUT for DAKAR ’16 by Bacar Baldé

BLACKOUT for DAKAR ’16 by Bacar Baldé

The LionHeart Initiative hosted French MMA Fighter Bacar “Blackout” Baldé, a veteran of 22 professional MMA fights, who has offered to support the LionHeart vision. In December 2016, Bacar offered MMA classes, led grappling classes, and cross-trained in Laamb wrestling in Dakar, Senegal. As son of the continent, Bacar holds deep passion for West Africa and its culture. A highlight of his journey was a chance to experience and cross-train with Senegalese traditional Laamb wrestlers from Grand Yoff Mbolo Training Center, an affiliate of the LionHeart Initiative in Dakar.

A little known fact abroad, MMA are not entirely new to West Africa.  A local martial art,often referred to as traditional wrestling (known as “Laamb” in Senegal and “Sineta” in Mali) has reportedly been practiced since the 14th century.  Traditional wrestling, which includes striking, clinch fighting, and grappling, is one of the region’s most popular distractions and the national sport of Senegal, where it draws larger crowds than any other sport or attraction in the country. This Senegalese national obsession hasmajor cultural significance, including a spiritual dimension, and for many underprivileged young men, it offers the only chance to earn a good living.  Desperate to lift themselves out of poverty, despite numerous challenges andaustere training conditions, many wrestlers train for numerous hours everyday in the hopes of someday making it to the top and being able to support their families.  Introducing MMA to West African youths with the help of talented mixed martial artist like Bacar Baldé will undoubtedly open new doors for these young men, whose hard work, discipline, and dedication is seldom matched by athletes in other parts of the world.
This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes frompoverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

6

MUAY THAI GUERRILLA ’16 by Baba Sakho & Dany Njiba

MUAY THAI GUERRILLA ’16 by Baba Sakho & Dany Njiba

In November 2016, Baba “Babs” Sakho took Muay Thai, the world’s most effective striking style back to his homeland of Senegal, in support of the LionHeart Initiative to develop multi-dimentional MMA fighters in the region. Baba used his 12 years of experience competing and coaching to develop the striking skills of MMA fighters affiliated with the LionHeart Initiative, as well as exhibit Muay Thai to a new audience. Baba has a competitive record of 12-3, and served as an instructor at Puteaux Scorp Thai in France, where he coached fighters who are now kickboxing Champions of France and Europe, and Muay Thai World Champion.

Babs who was joined by his best friend and teammate Dany “The Dog” Njiba, a Muay Thai World Champion and Champion of France, has a fight record of 39 wins, 1 draw, and 5 losses. His recently earned titles at 71 Kg include:
2015 – AFMT Champion of France
2015 – IFMA World Champion
2016 – WBC National Champion

Born of parents from the Democratic Republic ofCongo, Dany was born in France where he started with Kickboxing and eventually transitioned to Muay Thai. Without means to pay for sports dues, he often changed sports activities, and eventually found Kickboxing and fell in love. He later transitioned to Muay Thai which he practiced for two years before joining Baba Sakho at Puteaux Scorp Thai.

This project contributed to LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.

While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.

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