Boxing using glass gloves in Africa

If you’ve never heard of Dambe, ancient African sport, this article will blow your soul.

Dambe was invented in West Africa by the Hausa and is traditionally a sport for the lower classes of society. Battles will take place at festivals at the end of the harvest season when tribes will slaughter cattle to celebrate.

Money and betting from the ancient times have been closely associated with this sport. To this day, audience bets and pockets of prize money for boxers remain an important aspect of the festival.

Today, the participants are usually young people from the city and they play year round. Although the boxers no longer come from the Hausa, but with the national spirit, they still participate in the community and compete at festivals.

Traditionally, Dambe included wrestling, called Kokawa, but today it is mostly a boxing competition. Weapons are strong fists with one hand. The glove is a cloth and is wrapped with laces. Some boxers even put glass fragments inside, although this is illegal.

The other hand and two legs will be left free and used to hold the opponent, attack and defend. Because wrestling was used as a goal to knock the opponent down, kicks today are much more popular than traditional matches.

A match will have 3 innings but there is no time limit for each inning. Instead, a round ends when any of the following occurs

1) Two fighters no longer play

2) One of the 2 boxers asks to stop the match

3) When the hands, knees or body of the boxers touch the ground. The matches also do not have official weight, boxers will compete with people of the same size as themselves.

In traditional matches, amulets are often used as forms of magic. Amulets are sometimes used in modern competitions, but officials discourage the use of magical protection because it is said to be unfair.

There is small pillow that boxers will put in gloves. However, the amulets themselves often leave scars on their arms. Some modern Dambe organizers even banned smoking before fighting. Looks like this is a suitable sport for Nick and Nate Diaz!