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Nigeria’s traditional Dambe one-handed boxing goes global

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A large crowd gathered in Festac Town in the Lagos state area on Sunday, to watch the traditional one-handed boxing matches called Dambe that take place every week within Nigeria’s Hausa community.

Dambe is a fighting sport popular in the North of Nigeria and is a traditional form of boxing. The fighters wrap one clenched fist in multiple layers of dirt chord to increase the force of the blow. They are allowed to use only their one hand to strike their opponent, while the other hand is used only for defense.

The fights are characterised by loud cheers from the crowd as their preferred fighter lands a blow with music blaring from speakers interrupted by live commentary in the local Hausa language.

For the fighters, Dambe is a way of life which they were born into. Outside of a cash payout after each bout, the fighters rely on the crowd who give cash gifts to the fighter of their choice as they kneel to receive the gifts.

The promoters of the Dambe Warriors, Chidi Anyina and Anthony Okeleke, hope to achieve global appeal for the sport by showing fights on Youtube and other platforms.

“Dambe is a sporting circuit, which we’ve created to elevate the Dambe as a tradition into a sporting business and make it optimal, global and give it a fresh limelight,” explained promoter Anthony Okeleke.

Anyina added that “this was something local, enjoyed by thousands, hundreds of thousands of people in this community and it had its global appeal, we already had a vision. So that was why we decided that this should be a global sport.”

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