Dambe: The Brutal Combat Sports of the Hausa People


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Have you heard of the Dambe ancient sport, where participants may end up with broken ribs or jaws?  The ancient sport might be called the traditional boxing or martial arts of the Hausa people of Nigeria.

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The brutal combat sports dates back to the 10th century, that has found its way to our modern world. The sports attract thousands of onset viewers, including millions of offset viewers. In 2017, the sport was watched by over 200,000 people and flew to 24 million people online.

The sports is not for the faint hearted because of the brutality involved.  The aim of the sport is to knock down your opponent to the floor. This is achieved when one of the fighters delivers either a punch or kick in fights that can last up to three rounds.

Time seems to pause during each round, and only completed when an official or an opponent calls for the fight to end. The fight may end if an opponent is figuratively killed. This means that a part of an opponent touches the ground.

The fighters make use of ropes called kara to bind their punching hands.  The arm is called the spear and bound to make them hard as possible. The arms are the primary weapons while the weak hands are called shield.

The sport is held during festive periods, and taken as a test of bravery, for the men. Butchers and fishermen started this wresting in a state called Zamfara, Nigeria.  This was a way to prepare the men for war.  The sport can be used as a rite of passage for marriages in the Northern part of the country.

The popularity of the sport has made it meet  social media like YouTube.   Generally-speaking, the sport is easy to relate to the Asian countries that practice martial arts.

While the sport continues to gain international recognition, the prize purse of Dambe is relatively low compared to other similar sports.  The price set for the winner isn’t much, but to the locals, it means more than the money.

The winners of these fights have earned more than they can imagine. From goats to motorcycles, these fighters get richer when they win their fights.  The passion has kept the fighters coming even the monetary prices are important to them.


Some of these fighters fight every day because of the strength and stamina they receive. When some of them lose fights, they get furious and want to fight again to win the battle. However,  Dambe comes with risks.  The dangers outweigh what these fighters gain.

Many fighters are left with countless scars, broken noses, and brain damage that force some to retire from the sports.

The sport is extremely dangerous. However, the people have medicine they believe will ward off danger.  Today, the sport is no longer as vicious as it used to be in the past.

Dambe has found its way into the modern games. Even though, it has not been recognized as a sport that can be competed in sports festivals, it still has its die-hard fans who watch it.


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