Evala wrestling

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Evala is a form of traditional wrestling practiced mainly by the Kabyé of northern Togo, in West Africa. Competitors meet yearly at a festival following a retreat marking the intitiation of young men into adulthood.

Evala is the penultimate element of this initiation rite, during which young men are separated from their families for one week, residing in special huts where they are fed and subject to mental training. Prior to wrestling, participants go on a pilgrimage which involves climbing three mountains; those who does not complete it are not initiated into adulthood. Although wrestlers are initiated regardless of whether they win or not, losing is considered shameful to the family name. The last of these initiation rites is circumcision.