Dambe Boxing - a Hausa Martial Sports

Dambe has become widely recognised as a form of boxing, where men use their fierceness and fists in the sport as a way to settle scores for glory and for money, and is now spreading across the to a wider audience.  

Dambe Boxing
Image source: slate.com

This style of combat allows the boxer to use one hand as a shield and the other hand that is wrapped in a cloth and used as a spear to strike their rival. Dambe is traditionally practiced by the Hausas people in the north of Nigeria. The sports is popular in the north, but it is being brought down to the south where alcohol, cigarettes and women are not forbidden from being in the crowd. The environment is more relaxed unlike the north, where it is more religion orientated.

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The attempt to introduce Dambe to the megacity’s elite is notable less for the fighting than as a showcase of Nigeria’s complexity. Dambe nights in Lagos are an exercise and are worked to bridge the cultural gap. Most people that live in Lagos have only seen Dambe online and have never experienced it live before.
Traditionally, Dambe happened between men of butchers who would challenge each other. Today the participants of Dambe are often young men who train tirelessly in gyms or their backyards to compete for a cash prize.

Dambe Boxing
Image source: explorepartsunknown.com

While the sport preserves the Hausa butcher background, the brotherhood aspect of Dambe remains. The youths are now joining the professional ranks which travels to perform sessions in carnival like appearances, complete with amplified sound systems and elaborate pre-match ritual. Side betting for spectators and fighting for the grand prize for competitors remains an important part of the event.

Dambe Boxing
Image source: slate.com
As Dambe spreads throughout Naija, it is becoming more popular and gaining a wider and more radical audience.

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Published: 05/09/2018