Chain Cloth Cord


Prior to matches, dambe boxers wrap their strong-side fist in a piece of cloth, covered by a tightly knotted cord. The lead leg is wrapped in a chain, used for both offense and defense. Opponents are then matched based on size. Matches consist of three, un-timed rounds. Rounds end when: 1) there is no activity 2) a boxer or the referee requests a halt 3) a boxer's hand, knee or body touches the ground. Boxers may use the lead hand to grab or hold, and may use both legs to kick.


Dambe (Hausa) Boxing is a sport that was associated with the Hausa people of West Africa. Matches last three round, which have no time constraint. A round ends when there is: lack of activity; a participant or official calls a halt; a participant's knee, hand, or body touches the ground. Part sport, part social gathering and part spiritual practice, Dambe boxing is a way of life for the Hausa people of West Africa. Opponents rap their fists in cloth and their legs in chains as they spar in matches without time limits. Unlimited-length matches end when a boxer gives up or is knocked to the ground.


Due to resemblances to ancient illustrations, dambe boxing is thought to be a close relative of Ancient Egyptian and Hellenistic boxing. After the Hausa moved west, the tradition was kept alive in contests between village butchers and farmers. These two groups formed teams and competed at the end of the harvest. Loud percussion music and the use of amulets were important elements of traditional fights. Today, most competitors are urban youths who compete in matches held in large stadiums.