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Dambe Fight: The Ancient Art of Boxing

Dambe Fight: The Ancient Art of Boxing

Dambe Fight:  The Ancient Art of Boxing
Dambe Fight

Nigeria is so rich in culture and diversity and that makes the world marvel each time they take a closer look. Take for example the Dambe Fight, which has its roots in the Northern part of Nigeria and occurs during the Dambe festival.

The Dambe Fight is an ancient form of boxing that has pitched its niche in the Hausa tribe of Nigeria. The bout is usually festival-like. Where the two contestants are surrounded by drummers and dancers engaged in a wild celebration.

Although there are no weight classes the competitors are equally matched in size. Matches usually don’t exceed three rounds. The rounds are not time-bound instead the bout ends if any of the following occurs;

1. There is no activity.

2.One of the participants or official calls for a halt.

3. A participants hand, knee, or body touches the ground.

, Dambe Fight:  The Ancient Art of Boxing
 Dambe, the Ancient Art Of Boxing

Knocking an opponent down is termed ‘killing the opponent’. The primary weapon used in fighting one’s opponent is a single strong-side fist often called a spear which is wrapped with a piece of clothing and tied with a tightly knotted cord. The other free hand which is the lead hand is called the shield. The shield is held with the open palm facing the opponent while the dominant hand is wound to deliver a blow. Some boxers dip their dominant fist in a sticky resin mixed with broken glass but this, however, has been described as an illegal practice. The lead leg is usually wrapped in a chain for offensive and defensive reasons.

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, Dambe Fight:  The Ancient Art of Boxing
Victoria Rubadiri. Credit: BBC World News.

The goal of the game is to knock down or knock out an opponent after which the knocked out opponent is referred to as ‘killed’ although no fatal incidents have been recorded.

The Dambe festival is usually celebrated to mark the end to a bountiful harvest, it is as old as the Hause origin and is still practised till date.


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