Featured image Liberia Wrestling Team uniforms

In February 2018, Liberia sent its first ever licensed wrestlers to Nigeria. The four man team competed at the 2018 African Championship. Eric Borkuah, Augustine Flomo, Jarus R. Kollie and Venecious Juah make up the wrestling quartet. In the end, Liberia advanced to the 2018 World Championship.

Liberia Wrestling Team
Liberia Wrestling Federation president George Gould in center (red shirt) with athletes and members (photo taken from Facebook).

In Africa, Borkuah represented Liberia in the 92 kg senior freestyle match. He relinquished the bronze medal to Kenya’s John Odhiambo Omondi. Flomo fell to Angola’s Francisco de Deus Kadima. Kollie lost to Fridaousse Assanti from Benin. Lastly, Juah was disqualified. United World Wrestling posted the official results.

The next step for Flomo should have been the 2018 World Championship in Hungry. Instead, Liberia forfeited the match, due to finances. Amidst several challenges, the national team continues to train. According to LBSonline, finances make up just one of the many obstacles.

“… wrestlers found it difficult to fight on mat as they were not used to fighting or training on mats, but the beach,” the article reports.

Wrestling For a Mat

Beach wrestling exists. The sand based sport has international competitions and recognition. However, the style differs from Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Also, the beach sport is not included at the Olympics. Practicing without a mat has been a huge disadvantage for the team.

The team also lacks the necessary sponsorship to succeed. Thankfully, a Liberian residing in Canada sponsored the teams equipment, uniforms and travel for the 2018 African Championship. Liberia Wrestling Federation president George B. Gould showed gratitude towards the private donor. However, one donor cannot sustain an entire team. According to Gould, the federation has about 20 total athletes. The athletes train under coach Saah Banard King. With plans to obtain a mat and extend the sport into Liberia’s other counties, the team needs more support.

The team uses their immense passion to compensate for their lack of resources. Whether competing on a mat or practicing in the sand, they give their all. Watch Kollie’s performance at the African Championship.