- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The best thing on the Internet today is Al-Masry Al-Youm‘s interview with al-Sayed al-Essawy, a 25-year-old "gladiator" who is planning to fight a lion with his bare hands in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Why is he doing this?
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. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about it, and, after the revolution, with the economy the way it is, I’ve been given the perfect opportunity to realize my dream.
But don’t worry animal lovers; this will be a nonlethal lion fight:
Al-Masry: So, you’re not going to kill the lion?
Essawy: No. Unless it’s a matter of life or death, in which case I will be forced to kill it.
Al-Masry: When is fighting a lion not a matter of life or death?
Essawy: 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. But, like I said, if it comes down to either me or him, I will have to kill him. But I don’t want to kill the lion, nor am I planning on it. I want to make that clear.
Of course, there’s a political message:
Essawy: When I defeat the lion – which I will – I will pull an Israeli flag out of my pocket, and drape it over the lion, and put my foot on it. Israel led me to this, through all their atrocities which, as a child, I grew up watching on television. The message is that even though Israel and America may be as strong as a lion – the strongest creature on the planet – they too can be defeated.
Essawy: I have a whole series of shows planned in my head. I will pull an airplane with my teeth, and I will pull an airplane with my hair. I will also be run over by an airplane. In between each of these acts, there will be lion battles.
Essawy hasn’t gotten a permit for this event yet, but he’s planning to go ahead anyway, holding it in secret for selected journalists if necessary. I suspect most revolutions give an opportunity for crazy people to get more attention and have more influence than normal. Essawy seems fairly harmless … unless you’re a lion.
The whole interview is highly recommended, though Essawy’s training methods won’t make dog lovers happy.
Hat tip: @Mideastchannel