Known for his feats of strength, Mr al Essawy, 25, has announced plans to battle a 10-year-old, 280-kilogram lion named Samson to the death on June 25.
The bout has economic and political motivations. Mr al Essawy believes it will draw tourists to Egypt, which is suffering from a steep drop in visitors after the revolution. But he also says it will represent his abhorrence of the violent acts of Israel.
“When I conquer the lion, I will put an Israeli flag on him and step on the lion,” he says. “I am not against a Jewish state or the security of Israel, but they should be punished for their attacks on Palestinian people.”