By Sulayman Bah
Banjul-based wrestler ‘France’ is scheduled to make a comeback into the Arena 16 months after been banned for punching a referee.
France of Banjul Saku Ham Ham club, one of the biggest rising stars of the Gambia arena, had his otherwise impressive season truncated when he, in a fit of anger, administered a punch on a referee’s face.
The incident occurred at the Serrekunda West mini-stadium before hundreds of supporters May 2016 in what was the last undercard fight prior to the start of the occasion’s big combat.
In a contest that lasted nearly twenty-minutes, trouble flared when France appeared to have been floored by opponent Sanneh in the final third round.
Prior to this, France had appealed to the referee claiming victory over Sanneh on basis of ‘quart-appeal’ (having two hands and legs on the ground) which he believed the referee overlooked.
So, when the referee declared Sanneh winner after a heated clash, as exasperated France descended on the referee grabbing him by the neck before letting fly a right-hander close range smash in his face.
The referee also responded with a blow on France’s face prompting a furious uproar as police let loose on the wrestler with batons before frog-marching him out of the arena where he was later arrested.
The incident provoked a near free-for-all fight between fans of the wrestler and Police Intervention Unit personnel who quickly sought reinforcement to take control of the situation as the angry crowd battered the hired arena lights.
France was later taken to under police custody where he spent close to twenty hours before been bailed.
The erstwhile Gambia Wrestling Association leadership slapped a 2-year ban on France, a decision of which became null and void following the dissolution of the then GWA executive.
He’s now set for a comeback and will take on Sanneh in a rematch clarification bout after Alla promotions signed the deal.
Date of the combat has yet to be mentioned but negotiations towards that is expected immediately after opening of the wrestling season this coming October.