Lost Boys of South Sudan in the U.S. to take wrestling challenge to youths in the homeland


ymSYRACUSE, New York - As soon as he walks across the stage to receive his college diploma (BA in economics) from Syracuse University on May 13, 2012, Mr. Yuot Mach Thon (Yuot Machine) plans to fly back to South Sudan for an adventure. It is a different adventure never undertaken before by any Lost Boy in the past 10 years. The adventure is going to be a US versus South Sudan wrestling match planned to be held in Juba over this summer. Mr. Yuot has decided to face Ajang Garang (Mapuordit--the most feared wrestler in Jonglei State) in a wrestling match. Mr. Ajang is not tipped off of what is in the making across Atlantic Ocean but he will soon learn of it in the media and from the letter being hand delivered to him.

It is jaw-breaking news to learn of an obscured and unheard of individual (in the world of wrestling) from the US risking to face the mighty and legendary Ajang Garang in a wrestling match that will spur interest across the globe. But the two young men who both hail from Kolnyang Payam, South Sudan, have known each other long before they parted ways in 1999 following Mr. Yuot’s decision to pursue further studies in Kenya and later in the United States. These young men grew up together and Mr. Yuot claims to have known Ajang before his ascendancy to national fame following his successful wrestling contest against Athiei as well as his well-publicized humiliating defeat by Aciek Yar e Kuach (Aliab) 2 years ago. Drilled down further, Mr. Yuot Mach Thon hails from Nyichak clan while Mr. Ajang hails from Thany ke Pariak. Given this adventure, their paths will cross once again in Juba Stadium and it will be interesting to watch how the duo square off in what would be one of historic wrestling matches of our time.

When asked about the reason for sending Ajang Mapuordit a letter proposing a wrestling contest, Yuot Machine argued, “I have been troubled by a sense of self-aggrandizement by Mr. Ajang in many of his public outbursts following his wins in wrestling matches for a while now. I am troubled by Mr. Ajang’s and public’s assertion that he is the only individual holding the key of wrestling championship in the entire Jonglei State. It is an inaccurate assertion and he needs to be reminded that he is holding an outdated key, if he ever holds any, period. He added, "This is a world of sports and I would say Ajang is holding undefended title that I am going to take away easily.”

It is quite true Mr. Yuot wants to add wrestling title to the number of his accomplishments in the US in the last 10 years. As mentioned earlier, he is graduating on May 13, 2012 from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Further, he has championed a number of cultural milestones such as the completion of his Dinka traditional album and a purchase of a big traditional drum, Baai Bor, last year. One of his songs that went viral last year has to do with his mocking of ladies who opt to dance but aren’t in sync with Bor Dinka traditional dance rhythm. An excerpt from this song in Dinka is “Nyiir a ok rach piooth e bulic, nyiir ke pan achieng e Bush, aguo lo dhuu piny agut bulic.” Mr. Yuot is soon to release another album by the end of May this year, 2012.

Mr. Ajang Garang, on the other hand, is now known as one of the best wrestlers, if not the best, in the entire Bor Community and across Jonglei State. It is true that many analysts and commentators [especially here in the US] have declared Yuot as defeated on arrival. There is a tremendous skepticism about the seriousness of Mr. Yuot in his desire to face Mr. Ajang in the proposed wrestling match. One anonymous observer from the US and who has watched Ajang’s wrestling style both in tapes and in person whispered, “We are witnessing an act of suicide of the highest order by Mr. Yuot Mach Thon. I have to say that Ajang has to be advised to put him down gently and walk away because it will be a twinkling of an eye and Yuot will be flat on the ground.” This anonymous source advised, “I would say Mr. Yuot has already distinguished himself with his education and cultural milestones in other areas of Dinka culture. This is enough for him and he must steer clear of wrestling match because it is not his thing and frankly speaking it is not in his best interest. It is indeed a risky venture not worth his effort, time and money.”

Following up with Mr. Yuot on the concerns raised by these source and many commentators, Mr. Yuot categorically reiterated his position. He argued, “I seriously mean it and this is not the first time I have been underestimated by others. It is now up to Ajang Garang to accept my proposal, period.” Asked if he has discussed his decision with his older brother, Malou Mach Thon, who now resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mr. Yuot replied, “My brother will learn about it in the media just like everybody else. He added, “We did discuss this idea among ourselves here in New York and it was unanimously supported by all New York State youths. I do not feel obligated to call brother Malou and solicit his opinion on it for I do not see any reason to seek his counsel because his advice will not change my decision. The key point is Bor youths in New York know what I am capable of and am sure our people have not forgotten me at home either. They would know this is a serious business when they hear of my name in Pariak where Ajang is considered a celebrity.”

Mr. Yuot was pressed on why he didn’t ask legendary Majok Jok Angeth for wrestling contest instead but he replied, “I have watched Majok Jok’s many wrestling contests in the 1990s and I think he is ready to retire. We have retirees here in the US who can handle Majok. I want to face the most talked of individual I think is able to stand my heat and Ajang Mapuordit perfectly fits that categorization.”

An official statement from the leading organizer [coach] from New York, Anei Nhial Anei, Director of US Greater Bor Youth and Culture Branch, goes along the line that if Yuot is wrestled down, so be it. Mr. Anei stressed, “We know Ajang himself lost to Aciek Yar e Kuach, Athiei lost to Ajang, Ajak Ngong Oka (Taban) lost to Gore Mapak, Deng-Adol lost to Majok Jok Angeth, and so forth. Yuot Machine never lost to any of those guys. So far we have never heard of any of those individuals hanged by their communities because they lost to their opponents in a wrestling contest. It is our tradition in which individuals lose today and win tomorrow. I know the stakes are high because we happen to have lived in America for over a decade and all of sudden people are judging us as if we were born here. Growing up in Bor before and even during war, we once lived in the cattle camps and were used to wrestling each other and someone can’t just assume we can’t compete in a wrestling match today.” Mr. Anei added, “ Regardless of what happens, the sun will still rise, Jesus Christ will still be our Savior, South Sudan will still be independent and we will still have our careers here in Upstate, New York. Could we have advanced our culture to the next level? You bet. Will it diminish whoever loses during the contest? I doubt. The key take away from this exercise and from all that we have been doing in the area of our culture is to keep our tradition alive for our kids and next generations.”

Mr. Anei laid out what they have done so far to make this proposed wrestling contest a reality. He narrated, “Last Sunday, April 15, we held a meeting, deliberated on the idea and it was unanimously supported by our young men. Mr. Yuot Mach then prepared his letter and I signed off on it as the organizer of this event. Mr. Majier Anyang Kuon is arriving from South Sudan for a conference here and he will soon be back to South Sudan in the next few weeks. The letter will be delivered to Mr. Ajang in person by Mr. Majier Anyang. We want Ajang Mapuordit to read the letter carefully to understand what he is getting himself into before he signs away his wrestling keys to Yuot Machine.”

He added, “We are open to a wrestling contest in Bor area if Juba stadium is not feasible for them. So Yuot versus Ajang wrestling contest is a done deal in New York and in America and it is not negotiable. All we need is a big YES from Mapuordit and we’ll be good to go. When the match will take place is up to Mr. Ajang Garang who will have Mr. Yuot’s letter in the next few weeks. The timing of the contest could also be affected by the fact that we are a nation at war with North Sudan now. I do not think we could hold wrestling match while our brothers are in harm ways. But we want to put it out there as earlier as possible so that the folks on the ground in Jonglei State could do as much preparation as they would like to so that we are good to go at the time and place of their choosing.”

Questioned about the line-up of the US based youths, Mr. Anei answered, “This is Jonglei State Diaspora versus Jonglei State Residents back home. Just watch Awang de Michigan tapes and the young men you will see in that tape are ready to face South Sudan youths. Let me acknowledge that there was a long discussion about someone who will be in the running to face Ajith Nyakuoi in the wake of Ajang’s defeat. We have identified an individual who has known and has grown up with Ajith. He is ready to face him. At this juncture, we have individuals to face Deng-Adol, Majok Jok, Mayen Reech, Ajak-Taban, Cham-Ajana, Athiei, Amol-Dababa, Thon Mayen, Thon Kon and many others who will dare face us. It is funny to say that two individuals are fighting over Majok Jok as we speak and according to my analysis either of them will defeat Majok and maybe only to a draw if Majok is strong enough to hold up for allotted 5 minutes.”

Asked about the aftermath of wrestling match which is likely to be a tremendous loss and embarrassment to American team, Mr. Anei stressed, “Defeat is not an option here and if in fact it does happen, God forbids, we do expect songs composed about our losses. But we have songs ready to rain down on their defeated wrestlers, right there on the spot.”

This idea has already gone viral across the US and beyond. The independent analysts do not believe Mr. Yuot Machine or any other US based individual has a chance to defeat any of the individuals mentioned. In fact, the consensus is 90 percent of the US based wrestlers will lose big time and the remaining 10 percent will be a draw. This is the most optimistic prediction for the US otherwise they are all expected to lose the match one by one. But Mr. Anei has cautioned the naysayers with little knowledge of Yuot Machine and those to follow to be ready for huge surprise with many wins by the US Diaspora over South Sudan youths. Mr. Anei promised to announce the venue and time as soon as they hear back from Mr. Ajang Garang (Mapuordit) as to whether or not he has accepted Mr. Yuot Mach’s invitation for a wrestling contest.

Akol Aguek Ngong reported this story from Syracuse, NY, where the meetings, preparations and the rehearsals for the wrestling match are being held. Akol could be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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