Sow was born in Dakar in 1935. In 1957 he left for France where he obtained a diploma in nursing and physiotherapy. He returned in 1965, came back to France again in 1968, to return to Senegal again in 1984 with the goal to start a practice in physiotherapy there.
Inspired by the photographs of the Nuba peoples in southern Sudan, made by Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003), he changed his career in order to work from 1984 to 1987 on a series of sculptures of muscular Nuba wrestlers. These statues are bigger than the Nubas are in reality. During this process he developed a series of new techniques and materials. Subsequently, he made sculptures of the Maasai, a people in Kenya and Tanzania, and of the Zulu, a people that live mainly in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
He exhibited worldwide, like on documenta IX in 1992 and on the Pont des Arts in Paris in 1999. In 2008 Sow was honored with a Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands in the theme Culture and the human body.