With the allure of a bird of paradise, such a striking man can hardly go unnoticed in the Principality. Boubakar Gueye truly stands out from the crowd. This carved mahogany statue of a man glows amongst the fifty shades of pale that most of us display. His pearly-white smile shines like a sub-Saharan sunrise and lurking beneath his gym top is a six pack akin to a family-size bar of Dairy Milk. Immaculately dressed, softly spoken and incredibly charming, this is one gentleman that you can’t possibly miss.
Standing at 6ft tall, this lean, mean, ripped machine is eye-catching for all the right reasons! He’s a physical example of what can be achieved through sheer hard work, dedication, determination, perseverance and, well, let’s be honest, damn good genes. Many men would love to have his body, and many women, too, no doubt!
Yes, you guessed it, Bouba, is a top fitness coach, a personal trainer extraordinaire. You’ll likely find him instructing in the gym at the prestigious Yacht Club de Monaco, or onboard a luxury yacht putting private clients through their paces. A bit like Sting or Madonna, he only goes by one name, universally known as just ‘Bouba’. He’s a huge hit with everyone he meets and is one of life’s givers. Don’t let the kindness fool you, this disciplined drill-sergeant means business with a capital B!
Like many people in Monaco, his early life was far removed from the present day. Born in Paris, he was raised in Mali, Africa, from the age of 5-18 by his much-adored grandmother, Houry, “The most important person in my life” he affirms.
After a long school day learning Malian, French and English, little Bouba would help his grandmother and aunt farm the land and look after the animals. He left West Africa as a young adult to broaden his horizons, studying both catering and sport in Canada and France.
Even in these early years, daily exercise was already part of his regime. Whilst working out regularly with a body builder at his local gym, people started asking whether he was a personal trainer. Big-hearted Bouba didn’t hesitate to offer his services for free. When not pumping iron, he could be found poring over anatomy drawings by Olivier Delavier.
After fifteen years rising through the ranks of the Parisian restaurant scene, Bouba’s mentor, Frank Advielle, presented him with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to up sticks and relocate to Monaco. With just three weeks notice, Bouba didn’t hesitate to pack up his chef’s knives and head south. Nothing was going to stop him; small details like somewhere to live could all be worked out later.
Once in Monaco, Bouba started to indulge both of his passions; working as a chef at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel whilst also offering free Wednesday classes at the old Guy Mierczuk Gym.
Since birds of paradise rarely go unnoticed, his talent was spotted once again, and in 2015 he was snapped up by the team at the YCM.
In his own words, “I don’t see this as a job. It’s my passion. I’ve never told myself that I don’t want to work today.”
With his signature energetic exuberance, he told me, “My mental coach told me not to work seven days a week, so now I just do six.” His comment isn’t followed by a sly wink, he really means it.
Bouba’s interests, however, lie not only in the physical aspects of sport alone. When he’s not got his iron-firm grip on a dumbbell or his ebony thighs clamped around his beloved motorbike, his focus is altogether more cerebral. Training oneself to such a high level of slick hone and tone requires psychological strength as much as physiological. This is something Bouba understands first-hand, having lived and breathed it himself. As for the future, he’ll soon be commencing a post-grad diploma that takes a more holistic approach to the intertwined relationship of mind and body.
Always the giver, Bouba has never forgotten his childhood roots. Having already secured a plot of land, his ultimate goal is to build a day school for Malian street children. Knowing Bouba, sport will be high on the curriculum and I’ve no doubt that his beloved Grandma Houry will be bursting with pride!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hailing from no-nonsense Sheffield in the UK where “a spade’s a spade”, Lucy Coote is a well-travelled, multi-lingual, northern Brit who has spent most of her a life living abroad, with over twenty years in Monaco. Her CV could be the basis for a novel in itself. She launched her career in Formula One, working for the FIA as Secretary to the Stewards and later as the Press Officer for Jaguar Racing. Following her arrival in Monaco, she became part of the Amber Lounge success story, hosting VIP F1 events for the glitterati. Motherhood signalled a change in direction to focus on her passion for healing practices such as Massage, Craniosacral Therapy and Yoga. Despite the seductive glitz and glamour of the Principality, Lucy’s feet remain firmly on the ground and the words on her page reflect the heart on her sleeve.