From Nollywood actresses to afrobeat superstars, August Udoh, has captured them all.
He’s lauded as Nigeria’s most talented celebrity photographer but it is the stories of those on the very margins of society that are important to him.
The fighters captured in series “Dambe” are ordinary working men. “They have normal jobs. Some are truck drivers, others mechanics,” Udoh told CNN. But with one exception – their downtime is spent competing in martial arts sport dambe.
It’s a traditional form of boxing where competitors fight with a single bounded hand for three rounds. As Udoh’s series title suggests, this martial arts club is underground, its presence spread only through word-of-mouth.
“I had a security guard from the north who was talking about it and he showed me a video posted online,” says Udoh. “I thought this is actually true – there is an underground fighting club that a lot of people in Nigeria don’t know about.”
Dambe’s history stems from the Hausa people in northern Nigeria and is thought to date back centuries. It was local butchers by trade who competed. The stronger punching hand known as the spear is traditionally tied with cotton and rope, while the other hand shields against opponent’s punches.
Contestants can also kick – the fight ends when an opponent falls to the ground – referred to as a “kill”.
Traditionally the cloth bound hand was dipped in resin and covered in shards of glass – this has been banned. Boxing gloves were introduced in some areas to make the sport safer. But many still consider it a brutal sport due to the injuries inflicted. Read more