Catfight: Man Plans to Battle Lion in an Effort to Boost Egypt’s Tourist Industry

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Getty Images / Noah Seelam / AFP

An Asiatic lion rests inside an enclosure at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad on May 11, 2011

Forget bullfighting. In the animal entertainment sector, lion fighting is the hot new commodity. At least according to 25-year-old Egyptian al-Sayed al-Essawy, who plans to fight a full-grown African lion in front of the Pyramids at Giza. He told Egyptian publication Al Masry Al Youm that “the world will flock to see the Egyptian man who defeated a lion with his bare hands.” And given the state of the economy, now is as good a time as any. “After the revolution, with the economy the way it is, I’ve been given the perfect opportunity to realize my dream,” he says.

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To understand how this odd hobby became al-Essawy’s calling, rewind 12 years. “I discovered my incredible strength at the age of 13, and, almost immediately afterwards, promised myself that, one of these days, I would fight a lion,” he tells al Masry, adding that he views himself as an asset to Egypt. “If America, or any other country, had a man with the ability to combat the strongest creature on the planet, they would properly promote him, and use his strength to their advantage.”

To no great surprise, several animal rights groups have taken issue with al-Essawy’s plans, fueled by his revelations that he fights dogs to prepare for the battle. He defends his actions by saying that he won’t be armed and will only kill the lion if it’s, “a matter of life and death.” When the publication raised the obvious question of when fighting a lion isn’t a matter of life and death, he replied, “It’s up to the lion. If he chooses to withdraw, or surrender, and lets me tie him up, then I will not kill him and the fight will end.”

Egyptian Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakry AbdelNour released a statement saying that, “under no circumstance will the Ministry of Tourism tolerate any degree of inhumane acts against animals” and assuring citizens that he has been “personally involved in making sure such a barbaric act does not take place in Egypt.”

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