Photo Essay by Nigerian photographer, August Udoh.
Dambe, also known as Kokawa is a form of boxing associated with the Hausa people of West Africa. Historically, Dambe included a wrestling component, known as Kokawa, but today it is essentially a striking art.
The tradition is dominated by Hausa butcher caste groups, and over the last century evolved from clans of butchers traveling to farm villages at harvest time, integrating a fighting challenge by the outsiders into local harvest festival entertainment. It was also traditionally practised as a way for men to get ready for war, and many of the techniques and terminology allude to warfare.
Today, companies of boxers travel, performing outdoor matches accompanied by ceremony and drumming, throughout the traditional Hausa homelands of northern Nigeria, southern Niger and southwestern Chad. The name “Dambe” derives from the Hausa word for “boxing”, and appears in languages like Bole as Dembe. Boxers are called by the Hausa word “daæmaænga.
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