Dambe – Traditional Nigerian Boxing

I never knew traditional Nigerian Boxing is one of the deadliest sports in the world.

Practiced by traveling young African men, Dambe is one of the few ways they can become famous in a country like Nigeria. The winner of a Dambe tournament gets around $100, a TV-set and the honor of being a champion, not much for what he has to go through.

All a fighter has to do to win a fight is knock down his opponent only once in three rounds, but if the two are evenly matched, a fight can go on for hours. As you can see in the photos, fighters wear a flax cord rapped around one of their fists. They wet the string and sprinkle sand on it to make his punches more painful. The other hand is used to taunt and trick the opponent into letting his guard down. Many have been seriously injured and even died practising this blood sport, but as many fighters complain, there isn’t much an unemployed Nigerian can do to find fame.

Photo: Ayobami Macaulay/Wikimedia Commons

Fighters smoke large quantities of cannabis before a fight, saying it calms them down and makes them stronger. I can believe it makes them calm, but stronger?


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